Our Compassionate and Knowledgeable TX Podiatrists Explain Foot and Ankle Exercises That Can Help Seniors Prevent Falls

Falls are both dangerous and costly, especially for seniors. Learning ways to prevent falls can help older people retain a higher quality of life and extend their life expectancy. Toe curl exercises can help prevent falls

At Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists, we believe in healthy feet for life, and we understand that healthy feet can help keep the rest of the body healthy, too. Our dedicated podiatrists share 10 easy and quick exercises that seniors (or patients of any age) can perform just a few times a week to help prevent falls.

The Importance of Preventing Falls

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the leading cause of injury and death in people aged 65 and older. Approximately 36 million falls are reported each year in this age group, and nearly 3 million seniors receive emergency room treatment for a fall.

Approximately 20% of falls result in hospitalization, broken bones, and fractured hips. These injuries can be costly and debilitating, and many seniors may require surgery, hip replacements, months of recovery, rehabilitation, and physical therapy. Some older people who suffer from falls may never fully recover, and in some cases, these patients experience a downward trend in their health after their fall.

Focusing on your continued mobility, balance, strength, and dexterity can significantly reduce your chance of a fall and increase your chances of a joyful, healthy life as you continue your senior years. It can also help save you from expensive medical bills, a long recovery, and the possibility of ongoing disability or complications.

Foot and Ankle Exercises That May Help Prevent Falls

You don’t have to put aside a large block of time each day to keep your feet and ankles in shape and help reduce the risk of falls. Just doing some foot and ankle exercises a few times each week can make a big difference in your strength, mobility, and balance. Remember, you should never begin any exercise routine without first consulting with your doctor.

Weight Shifting/Single Leg Balance

Increasing your lateral strength is vital to preventing falls, and you do so by completing exercises in which one half of your body supports the other half. Begin this exercise by standing with your feet hip-width apart and shifting your weight to one side of your body for 30 seconds. Once this becomes easier, pick one foot off the floor completely and balance on the other foot, switching sides after 30 seconds. If you find this exercise difficult at first, increase your stability by holding onto a piece of furniture or the wall.

Heel-to-Toe Walking

Pretend you are on a balance beam or tightrope and walk slowly, placing one foot in front of the other, your front heel just touching your back toe. If you find this difficult, put your arms out for balance and walk in a hallway where you can use a wall as added support. This exercise helps you develop better balance and works on lateral movement, too.

Foot Taps

Stand next to a stair. Raise one foot above the stair and tap your foot down on it, and then switch sides. This simple exercise builds stability and strength.

Marching in Place

This exercise is exactly as it sounds. Stand with your feet hip-length apart and raise one leg so that your thigh is parallel to the floor. Pause and hold it there before returning your foot to the floor. Alternate feet 20 times.

Ankle Circles

You cannot have foot strength without ankle strength. Sit in a chair and hold one leg out in front of you. Make circles with your ankle, first five times in a clockwise rotation and then in a counterclockwise rotation. This simple exercise will increase the mobility of your ankle.

Toe Pulls

While standing, try to lift just the big toe of each of your feet into the air while keeping your other four toes on the ground. Then, try to lift your four smaller toes on each foot while keeping your big toe on the ground. Alternate these moves 10 times to increase foot stability and walking pace.

Calf Raises

Your calves are an important part of your mobility, and strong calves can help prevent falls. Strengthen your calves with simple calf raises, in which you slowly raise your heels and stand on your tip-toes before lowering your heel again. Increase the difficulty of this exercise (and your calf strength) by raising one foot off of the ground and performing calf raises on one side of your body at a time. Decrease the difficulty of this move by using a chair or wall for support.

Toe Curls

Sit in a chair and place a towel on the floor under your bare feet. Curl your toes around the towel and try to pick it up. Alternate feet or try left and right foot toe curls at the same time. This exercise strengthens the plantar fascia muscles.

Ball Roll

Sit in a chair. Place your foot on a golf ball or tennis ball, rolling it across the length of your foot and around its arch. Repeat on your other foot. This exercise loosens the muscles of your feet, increasing mobility.

Other Simple Ways to Help Prevent Falls

In addition to exercising, there are a number of other easy ways to reduce your chances of a fall as you age. These include:

  • Keep active and walk regularly
  • Wear proper footwear and orthotic devices
  • Check your sight and hearing regularly
  • Remove fall hazards from your home
  • Install bars and railings
  • Consider assistance like a cane or walker
  • Avoid walking in the dark
  • Avoid walking barefoot

Seeing a Texas Podiatrist Can Help Prevent Falls, Too

A regular trip to your podiatrist is an effective way to help reduce your chance of a serious fall. Your podiatrist can ensure that you are wearing the proper footwear, evaluate you for orthopedic devices, address any foot or ankle conditions you may have, and walk you through helpful foot exercises. A podiatrist can also let you know if a cane or walker could help your mobility and tell you about the best ways to increase your foot strength, depending on your specific abilities and needs. Call Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced podiatrists.

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