Research shows that an excessive concern of falling increases the risk of falling in older adults.
Falls happen in situations when you lose your balance and the body needs to react quickly to regain its stability. According to research, the fear of falling hinders older adults from living an active life due to behavioral responses, mainly stiffening behavior. When they adopt a stiffening strategy older adults reduce their motion range, resulting in decreased stability.
So, what can you do to calm your concerns and improve your balance?
According to the training specificity principle, the only effective way to improve your balance is to repeatedly focus on balance exercises.
Training specificity is one of the most important principles in physical fitness. This simple principle means that the best and most effective way to get better at a particular activity is to perform that specific activity again and again.
For example, if you are a baseball player who wants to get better at batting, weight training will not bring you any closer to your goal. The best way for you to improve is to practice batting over and over again.
Based on that principle, the only effective way to improve balance and stability, and decrease your risk of falling, is to repeatedly perform balance exercises.
Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Make sure your environment is well-lit and obstacle-free.
- The training surface and surrounding should be completely dry and not slippery.
- To prevent falls, train in the corner of the room where 2 walls support your back and side, and add a chair or table in front of you for extra support.
- As you improve, you will probably notice that you are less afraid of falling and don’t need as much support, but even then make sure you have some support around you.
Remember - if you are afraid of falling all you need to do is go against your instinct and train!