Fall Prevention and Balance Training Program (also known as Proprioception training)
Balance and fall prevention training should be a part of the public’s anti aging and exercise strategies. The importance of this aspect of an exercise program cannot be underestimated. With an increasing number of aging adults needing to improve their strength and prevent potentially catastrophic falls, balance training can be an effective component of staying healthy.
Let’s discuss the research and statistics supporting the need for balance and fall prevention training, as well as the key components of a successful balance-training program.
Why Balance Training Is So Important
*Falls account for 65 percent of all injuries among seniors, with an estimated cost to our health care system of $2.4 billion annually.
*Caring for seniors injured from falls represents a whopping 41 percent of our national health care costs.6
*Extensive research suggests the need for balance and fall prevention training pertaining to the aging population.1-4
*It is common knowledge that fall prevention is one of the most critical issues in aging health, making it an essential component of any health program.
As caring loved ones wanting to help the National health care crisis, we need to be a part of the solution. Implementing balance exercise and fall-prevention conditioning programs will save us money and keep us healthier for the long haul.
That’s why screening should always be the first part of a comprehensive program. There are computerized balance screening technologies that your doctor of chiropractic may have, or your local physical therapy clinic may offer testing and balance training. Or there are cheap easy things to do at home discussed below.
Building Your Balance Training Program
Find a safe place where you can stand and grab onto something if you start to fall. Take off your shoes and stand on one leg (with good posture of course) and leave your eyes open. Imagine yourself as a flamingo standing on one leg.
Now when you feel fairly balanced while standing on one leg, try closing your eyes. See how long you can stand there on one leg with your eyes closed. You should be able to go 1 minute. You won’t be able to, but that is okay. It will get better.
Your nervous system and your musculo-skeletal systems “center of gravity” will start to learn. Your foot, ankle, calf, and hip wiggling to compensate from falling, is a good thing. The joints and muscles involved are talking to your brain-nervous systems computer and it will learn better balance.
Professional athletes do this type of training to prevent injuries. If they can’t compete because of an injury, they don’t make money.
The above test is also a cheap easy way to continue to practice your balance at home. As you or your loved one get better at balance, you can try other balance challenging devices.
The Wii Fit, “Balance games” can be a fun way to incorporate a balance program.
Utilizing rocker and wobble boards and other unstable surfaces can further challenge you or your loved one. There are many websites selling these devices.
Or pick them up at your local fitness type retail store.
Other exercise strategies have been gaining popularity as well. For example, tai chi or Yoga is regarded as effective interventions to maximize health, particularly in the aging population.
Yoga and tai chi are both excellent group exercise programs that can be done in groups and results in greater interaction and accountability. Sometimes the social interaction is just as important as the program itself.
Vibration exercise is another technology that has made its way into balance, proprioception and strength training for the aging population. Your gym may even have these vibration type platforms. You may have seen your favorite professional athletic teams training on vibration platforms.
Recent research suggests vibration exercise decreases the risk of falls and fractures,13-14 and improves balance in the elderly.15-17
As the population ages, we need to take a proactive approach to our own health.
Don’t wait for insurance companies or the government to take care of you.
Prevention is key.
1. Iwamoto J, Suzuki H, Tanaka K, Kumakubo T, Hirabayashi H, Miyazaki Y, Sato Y, Takeda T, Matsumoto H. Preventative effect of exercise against falls in the elderly: a randomized controlled trial. Osteoporos Int, 2009;20(7):1233-40.
2. Rose DJ. Preventing falls among older adults: no “one size suits all” intervention strategy. J Rehabil Res Dev, 2008;45(8):1153-66.
3. Costello E, Edelstein JE. Update on falls prevention for community-dwelling older adults: review of single and multifactorial intervention programs. J Rehabil Res Dev, 2008;45(8):1135-52.
4. Sherrington C, Whitney JC, Lord SR, Herbert RD, Cumming RG, Close JC. Effective exercise for the prevention of falls: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Am Geriatr Soc, 2008;56(12):2234-43.
5. O’Loughlin JL, et al. Incidence of and risk factors for falls and injurious falls among the community-dwelling elderly. American Journal of Epidemiology, 1993;137(3):342-354.
6. The Economic Burden of Unintentional Injury in Canada. The Hygeia Group. Smartrisk, 1998.
7. Gillespie LD, Robertson MC, Gillespie WJ, Lamb SE, Gates S, Cumming RG, Rowe BH. Interventions for preventing falls in older people living in the community. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 2009;15;(2).
8. Rose DJ, op cit.
9. Petridou ET, Manti EG, Ntinapogias AG, Negri E, Szczerbinska K. What works better for community-dwelling older people at risk to fall? A meta-analysis of multifactorial versus physical exercise-alone interventions. J Aging Health, 2009;21(5):713-29.
10. Wong AM, Lan C. Tai chi and balance control. Med Sport Sci, 2008;52:115-23.
11. Voukelatos A, Cumming RG, Lord SR, Rissel C. A randomized, controlled trial of tai chi for the prevention of falls: the Central Sydney Tai Chi Trial. J Am Geriatr Soc, 2007;55(8):1185-91.
12. Logghe IH, et al. Lack of effect of tai chi chuan in preventing falls in elderly people living at home: a randomized clinical trial. J Am Geriatr Soc, 2009;57(1):70-5.
13. Von Stengel S, et al. [Effect of whole body vibration exercise on osteoporotic risk factors.] Dtsch Med Wochenschr, 2009;134(30):1511-6.
14. Gusi N. Low-frequency vibratory exercise reduces the risk of bone fracture more than walking: a randomized controlled trial. BMC Musculoskelet Disord, 2006;7:92.
15. Rees SS, et al. Effects of whole body vibration on postural steadiness in an older population. J Sci Med Sport, 2009;12(4):440-444.
16. Cheung WH, et al. High-frequency whole-body vibration improves balancing ability in elderly women. Arch Phys Med Rehabil, 2007;88(7):852-7.
17. Kawanabe K, et al. Effect of whole-body vibration exercise and muscle strengthening, balance, and walking exercises on walking ability in the elderly. Keio J Med, 2007;56(1):28-33.