111219 Balance and strength by Danny M. O’Dell MA., CSCS
Entering into the later stages of life brings the certainties of decreased balance abilities and increasing strength deficits. These are inevitable in the aging process but they don’t have to be debilitating. There are steps that can be taken to help mitigate these age related potential problems.
Getting older and remaining active are not mutually exclusive. As the years begin to stack up beyond fifty, carrying on with daily living tasks takes more of an effort, unless preventive measures are taken to reduce the effects of age.
To cite but one example, the next time you are out take notice of how some people seem to be just shuffling along, barely lifting their feet off the ground. This may be the result of two correctable conditions:
1.Lack of balance
2.Lack of usable, on demand strength
Of course, not all the shuffling is due to a lack of balance and strength but these two certainly contribute to this style of movement.
Balance or strength-which road to take
A lack of balance exposes a person to the danger of falling or tripping. On the other hand, not having the strength to recover from this loss of balance implies the fall will occur. Neither outcome is desirable, especially if osteopenia or osteoporosis is present. Here are a few ideas to help slow down this aspect of aging.
As we reach the fourth decade, our sense of balance and the response to this lack of equilibrium begins to fade ever so imperceptibly. We can offset this decay by working on our balance each day.
Make sure to have either a reliable partner standing by to steady you or stand next to a stable solid object so you can catch or regain your balance while performing the following exercises.
The warm up
The first thing to do before beginning to exercise is to warm up. Move about, get the pulse rate up, get the body sweating, and make it ready for the upcoming workout. Your muscles and nervous system work more efficiently together when warmed up. The warm-up consists of, in this case, two phases: General and movement specific.
The general warm up raises your heart rate and pulse above normal. It begins to make the body sweat a bit. The specific phase of the warm up moves into the early stages of the exercise movement patterns.
To begin the sessions first loosen up your lower back with the cat and camel exercises. After doing fifteen to twenty of these, move onto the following series of movements.
Start out slowly with these exercises. Master one exercise before moving onto the next on the list. Practice each position, and become steady, for up to one minute before trying a more difficult version.
- Two foot side-by-side stand-place your feet next to each other.
- Head back, two foot side by side stand-tip your head back and look at the ceiling.
- In line, two foot stand-heel to toe
- In line, two foot stand with head back-look at the ceiling again
- One-foot stand-make sure you have something to grab a hold of if you begin to lose your balance.
- One foot stand with head back-look at the ceiling once more
- Opposite one foot stand-switch feet. You may notice a definite lack of balance on one foot when compared to its opposite.
- Opposite one foot stand with head back-look at the ceiling
Practice these on a regular basis and your balance should get better over time. Additionally, getting stronger will help a great deal when it comes to regaining your balance if you should happen to lose it.