3 Tips to Decrease Your Risk of Falling InjuriesDecember 19, 2018
As people age, they become more susceptible to fractures due to loss of bone density and weakening muscles. One of the most common ways that older adults get injured is through falling. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 4 million older people are treated each year due to falls.
By making a few lifestyle changes, you can drastically reduce your risk of falling related injuries.
DIET TO PREVENT FALLS
Your bones naturally become more brittle as you age. Postmenopausal women are particularly at risk to develop osteoporosis. Osteoporosis occurs when your bones break down faster than they can be rebuilt. Because osteoporosis makes your bones weaker, it increases the likelihood a fall will lead to a broken bone. Breaking a bone can be life-threatening for older adults in the case of a broken hip. According to a study published in Geriatric Orthopedic Surgery & Rehabilitation in 2010, 1/3 of people will break a hip in their lifetime, and 86% of those people are over the age of 65.
There are certain habits you can incorporate into your life that can decrease your risk of hip fracture including:
- Avoiding smoking
- Getting adequate vitamin D (At least 1000mg a day)
- Getting adequate calcium (At least 1200mg if you’re over 50)
- Staying active
REGULAR STRETCHING TO PREVENT FALLS
Stretching is a habit that you should maintain your entire life. As you age, there’s less fluid in your muscles and connective tissue, and you lose your range of motion. However, the amount of mobility you lose from the natural aging process might not be as significant as you think. Part of the reason most people lose their flexibility is because they don’t stretch. By stretching regularly, you can reduce and reverse the effects of aging on your mobility. As your range of motion increases, so does your chances of catches yourself when falling.
Some things to keep in mind when stretching include:
- Don’t do anything that causes pain
- Try to stretch muscles throughout your entire body
- Ease into each stretch
- Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds without bouncing
REGULAR EXERCISE TO PREVENT FALLS
By staying active, you can strengthen your muscles and bones. Strong muscles in your legs and core can help you remain stable and prevent you from falling on uneven surfaces. Strengthening the muscles in your shoulder and arms can prevent upper body fractures caused by catching yourself.
Keep the following in mind when exercising:
- Try to keep impacts minimal
- Include balance training
- If something hurts, stop
- Include core exercises
To prevent falls and to lower your chance of getting injured when you fall, you should stretch regularly, stay active your entire life, and eat a diet high in calcium and vitamin D. Avoiding smoking and alcohol can also reduce your injury risk by promoting higher bone density.