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Stay on Your Feet: 10 Falls Prevention Exercises to Keep you Safe and Strong!

Exercise has been shown to be the most promising falls prevention strategy, both as a single intervention and in combination with other falls prevention strategies. Try some of these exercises as part of your routine!


Safety considerations when performing exercises:

  1. When performing balance exercises always have something stable near you to hold onto (back of a chair, table, supportive steady surface)

  2. If you use a walking aid, always use walking aid with the brakes turned on

  3. Wear appropriate clothing (nothing long or dragging on floor that you could trip on)

  4. Wear appropriate closed-in footwear with support

  5. Make sure the environment is clear and there is nothing you can trip on around you

  6. Have a reasonable amount of space around you to perform the exercises

  7. Make sure you have regular rest breaks in between sets of exercises

Warm Up

1. Shoulder Shrugs

  1. Standing up nice and tall and looking ahead

  2. Slowly bring both your shoulders up towards your ears

  3. Slowly bring your shoulders back down

  4. Repeat 10 times


2. Trunk Movements


  1. Stand up nice and tall and place your hands on your hips

  2. without moving your hips, turn as far as you can to the right then turn as far as you can to the left

  3. Repeat 5 times each side


3. Marching on the spot

  1. Standing up nice and tall with a backward facing chair, walking aid or something supportive to hold onto for support if needed

  2. With your knee bent, bring one knee up towards you then back down to the ground, bring your other knee up towards you and back down


Strength

1. Seated Knee Extensions

  1. Sit in a chair with your back well supported

  2. Straighten your leg out in front of you, using your leg muscles to squeeze so your knee is straight. Hold for 3-5s and lower back down to the ground

To make it harder- Try adding a resistance band tied to the chair leg and around your ankle. Or use some ankle weights


2. Side Hip Raises

  1. Stand up nice and straight beside a table, chair or something supportive beside you

  2. Keeping the leg furthest away from the table straight with your foot facing forward.

  3. Bring your leg out to the side and slowly return it back down to the ground. Make sure your back stays straight and you are moving from your hip and not your back, You should feel this working the hip and bottom muscles.

To make it harder- Try adding a resistance band tied around the table leg and your outer leg. Or use some ankle weights


3. Calf Raises

  1. Stand up tall using the back of a chair, table, or supportive surface in front of you for balance with your feet shoulder width apart.

  2. Come up onto your toes keeping your legs straight and control the movement back down to the starting position.

To make it easier- Try this exercise in sitting with feet touching the floor

To make it harder- Try holding on with one hand or no hands with a stable surface in front of you. Or try adding some ankle weights. Or try single leg calf raises


4. Sit to Stands

  1. Sit in a chair with your back supported and feet flat on the floor

  2. Lean forward bringing your nose you’re your toes and using both arms, push through your arms and legs to bring yourself standing up

  3. Slowly sit back down and repeat

To make it easier- Try using a higher chair

To make it harder- Try using a lower chair. Try only using one hand to stand up or having both arms crossed on your chest using no hands to stand up


Balance

1. Side Walking

  1. Stand up tall and hold onto a table or something supportive next to you

  2. Take 10 steps to the right, leading with your right leg and bringing your left leg towards your right leg

  3. Repeat the opposite direction

If this is too hard- Perform the task using one or two hands to hold onto the stable surface in front of you, then slowly work your way to reducing the weight you place on the surface until you can complete the task without holding on

If this is too easy- Try adding a slight bend in your knees


2. Backwards Walking

  1. Stand up tall and hold onto a table or something supportive next to you.

  2. Walk backwards 10 steps.

  3. Turn around and hold on with the other hand

  4. Walk backwards 10 steps to the beginning

If this is too hard- Perform the task using one or two hands to hold onto the stable surface in front of you, then slowly work your way to reducing the weight you place on the surface until you can complete the task without holding on

If this is too easy- Try heel-toe backwards walking


3. Walking and Turning Around (Figure 8 Walking)

  1. Stand near something supportive or use your walking aid (if you have one) for this exercise

  2. Walk at your regular pace, turn in a clockwise direction.

  3. Walk back to your starting position

  4. Turn in a counterclockwise direction (a figure 8 pattern)

If this is too hard- Perform the task using one or two hands to hold onto the stable surface in front of you, then slowly work your way to reducing the weight you place on the surface until you can complete the task without holding on

If this is too easy- Try adding in some more turns closer together!


4. Stepping Forwards, Side, Backwards

  1. Stand up straight with your feet hip width apart.

  2. Step one leg out in front of you, then back to the centre

  3. Step the same leg out to the side, then back to the centre

  4. Step the same leg back behind you, then back to the centre

If this is too hard- Perform the task using one or two hands to hold onto the stable surface in front of you, then slowly work your way to reducing the weight you place on the surface until you can complete the task without holding on

If this is too easy- Try keeping your leg lifted throughout the movement


5. Reaching

  1. Standing with feet hip distance apart

  2. Ensure you have a table, back of chair or supportive surface in front of you to hold onto for support if needed.

  3. Reach out to the right while transferring your weight onto right leg

  4. repeat on left

If this is too hard- Have your stable surface in front of you and place one hand on for support

If this is too easy- Try reaching out further out your base of support



6. Static Tandem Stance

  1. Have your walking aid in front of you or stable surface beside you

  2. Place one foot directly in front of the other so your toes of your back foot is touching the heel of your front foot

  3. Make sure you spread your weight evenly across both feet

  4. Try holding this position for 45 seconds

If this is too hard- Try a semi-tandem stance by placing one foot slightly ahead of the other. The heel of your front foot should be in line with the arch of your back foot

If this is too easy- try closing your eyes! Or try standing on one leg. Making sure your stable surface is in front of you/behind you for support if you need it


Aim to complete 10-12 repetitions of each exercise for 2-3 sets. As you get better at them you can progressively increase the reps/sets. These exercises are to be used as a guide only. For a more individualised program and advice, speak to a Good Country Physiotherapist.







*This content was produced by Emma Dredge and Anna Tan from the University of South Australia as part of a Health Promotion in Physiotherapy Course. Facilitated by Angela Willsmore, Director of Good Country Physiotherapy.


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