THIS ONE IS FOR MY GRANDMA!
I am doing research for an Ebook Series that will be out later next year involving the topics of Posture, Vision, Breathing and Balance, and how they all (should) work together,
In a Basic Bio-mechanics textbook by Susan Hall I found a hidden gem of information that really interested me.
I began my research with Posture, because I believe that Posture is the foundation for all other physical processes – from digestion to Balance and even Vision!
Susan gets to the heart of the matter when she comments on Postural sways in elderly; how the sway is greater in all four directions while stationary when compared to adolescents. What was more concerning to Susan however was the greater instance of a lateral (side-side or ‘mediolateral’) sway while walking.
I proceeded to look up a few of the related references and read them myself:
- Hernández, Antonio et al. “Effect of Age on Center of Mass Motion during Human Walking.” Gait & posture 30.2 (2009): 217–222. PMC. Web. 27 Sept. 2016.
– Relevant Summary: there is a reduction in the ability for the ankle to push off, the muscles further away from the body becoming weaker with age.
- Kerrigan, D.Casey et al. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Volume 79, Issue 3, 317-322
– “Gait performance in the elderly may be limited by both subtle hip flexion contracture and ankle plantarflexor concentric weakness..”…Blah blah blah … i.e. Hips less flexible.
- Maki, B. E. (1997), Gait Changes in Older Adults: Predictors of Falls or Indicators of Fear?. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 45: 313–320. doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.1997.tb00946.x
– Relevant Summary : Side to side balance especially the transition from one leg to the other becomes a problem with age and the related alteration of gait (walking pattern)
“Contrary to common expectation, a wider stride does not necessarily increase stability but instead seems to predict an increased likelihood of experiencing falls”
Here is what I suggest ….
Since the main causes of falls are
- loss of flexibility and the ability to contract certain muscles
- loss of balance and the human bodies futile attempt to gain stability by widening the stride and slowing down.
Then the plan is simple!
a. Strengthen the related limbs, especially the ones further away from your body
b. Do DAILY hip and spine related mobility work
c. Work on balance and lateral movements, again, DAILY.
So, what does A,B,C look like as a daily routine?
(There will be Visuals up shortly!)
START WITH MOBILITY
- Leg raises on the floor with and without the use of a band
- Knee circles while on hands and knees
- ‘Cat and Camel’
- Standing ankle circles, rolls or ‘pulls’
- Leg swings while standing: forward/back and side/side
move to MOVEMENT
- Walking 30-60 minutes a day with help promote bone density : that might be a bit much for some so start easy!
- Up HILL walking, zig-zag up the hill – avoid stairs unless you have been cleared by a movement specialist.
- Down Hill walking – can be very stressful and cause soreness if too steep – if just enough slope your hips will open right up!
- Squats x 5-10 reps – try interspersing them within your walk!?! once again, get cleared.
- Practice Shifting your weight from one foot to another in a controlled environment – use different stances and change the distance your feet are apart.
- Consciously think of both legs and both motions : the drive off the floor and the step forward – and try to keep your feet more of less under your hips.
- Vision Tasks! – There a number of different stances to choose from but start just standing normally. Stick your thumb out in front of your nose and stare at the nail. While keeping your head still and your eyes on your nail – move your thumb in any direction. Now the opposite can be done and many other variation but the idea is that balance can be trained – or so says current neuroscience!
- Walking drills : walk with feet as far out as possible or with them as narrow as possible / alternate between the two. Focus on keeping your center of balance in the middle of your base of support.
There is tons of valuable information out there on this subject, however it is usually boring as heck to read.
I mean, I took History and Philosophy at the University of Toronto and I thought that was dry reading! I could not imagine spending years and years looking over literature (if you can call it that) with such little humor! But the insights into the human body priceless, and more than makes up for it.
If this was too much, contact me with any questions you may have. I love talking and explaining this kind of stuff to people who are interested and will ACT on this information.
Acting is the creative force that no change can begin without.
All the best my friends, and thanks for reading.