When we first meet someone, we often subconsciously make an estimate of their age by the degree of ease with which they move – and with longer life expectancies, it is key that we get the best out of our bodies to ensure that life is one of quality. My passion is in helping my patients to do just that and live a longer, better life.
Ageing and falls
We all know that the tendency to fall increases with age. This is simply because we lose physical strength and bone density together with a deterioration in our sense of balance. This process starts around the age of 25 so you are never too young to start taking action!
The human body is inherently unstable and in order to stay balanced requires constant feedback from our eyes, ears and joints. In older people, that are prone to falls, this feedback is often worse. For example, when walking, issues in your weight bearing joints, such as arthritis, could cause misleading feedback to your brain, potentially resulting in a fall and injury. It is, therefore, easy to see how older people can end up in a vicious spiral of inactivity, accelerated by being sedentary which leads to a further reduction in strength and balance and an increased risk of falls.
Tips for breaking the cycle
The good news is that if you do the right things, you can slow down the deterioration and reduce the risk of falls:
Aim to be active every day and build up to 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. The recommendation is in blocks of 10 minutes (make sure you feel warmer and breathe harder but you should also be able to have a conversation). Brisk walking or dancing would be a suitable activity.
Do some balance exercise twice a week, particularly if you are over the age of 65 – Tai Chi, yoga or attend one of the local Steady & Strong balance classes.
If you cannot attend a class, there are plenty of balance and strength exercises you can do at home. Try standing on one leg whilst trying to keep your balance. Be careful and hold onto a wall or support if you are unsteady, when you first start this exercise. This will help to strengthen the muscles and ligaments around your knees and ankles as well as improve your balance.
Ensure your footwear is suitable – well fitted, supportive shoes are best. Trainers or similar footwear are ideal and can help to take the pressure off joints by absorbing shock.
What can Osteopathy do to help?
We see a considerable number of patients, with age related issues, largely resulting in pain and stiffness. We would work with you to reduce your pain, keep you more active and give self-help advice on how to avoid the above issues.
We are here to help you whether you need pain relief or would just like us to prescribe you some individual exercises to set you on the road to activity.
Whatever the season, there is no better time to start planning for better ageing!