3 Simple Tips to Improve Balance and Prevent Falls

When it comes to preventing falls, I have found that there are 3 simple techniques that most people can practice to help prevent themselves from falling. 

The first tip is to keep your feet apart as wide as your hips and shoulders when you walk. This is especially important when you are making sharp turns. Keeping your feet apart is important for your balance because it give you a wide base of support allowing you to distribute your weight as you are walking and provides you with better balance when you are making turns. Do your best to not cross your legs or bring your feet too close together when you are turning a corner as this can significantly increase your risk of falling.

The second tip is to keep the old Navy Seals' saying in your head, "Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast".  Many adults fall when they are rushing through things. While us human beings have the ability to multitask, research has shown that it is very difficult for our brains to give 100 percent focus to multiple tasks at a time. While navigating through your home and community, don't rush and instead take the time to notice your surrondings and pay attention to where you are stepping. This will allow you to prevent yourself from tripping over something on the floor,  misjudging the height of a curb, and allow you to follow tip number and prcatice keeping your feet wider apart when walking especially when making sharp turns. 

The third tip is to pay close attention to your footwear. The general rule for proper footwear for balance is that you want a comfortable well fitting shoe. A shoe that doesn't increase your height by too much is generally better. Many shoes today add extra cushion to the heels to make the shoe more comfortable. But becareful that the added cusion doesn't make you feel too high off the gound as this can negatively affect your balance. I would advise avoiding completely flat shoes if you have history of knee or hip osteoarthritis as these shoes may not be the best for shock absorption during walking.

You also want a shoe that is flexible but also sturdy. A good trick I like to use is to grab the shoe in your hands, then try to twist it all the way around. Being able to twist the shoe 1/2 to 2/3rds around is generally good. A shoe that twists completely around is generally too flexibile and not sturdy enough, while a shoe that twists only 1/3 around or less is generally too sturdy and not flexible enough during walking. Try to find a shoe or sneaker that fits well, is comfortable, has good arch support, doesn't make you feel too high off the gound, and is able to twist around for about 1/2 to 2/3 rds around. 

These are 3 simple tips that you can practice to help improve your balance and lower your risk of falling. Remember to try to keep your feet shoudler width apart when making sharp turns, practice the saying "Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast" to prevent yourslef from making mistakes leading to a fall, and make sure the shoes you are wearing are a comfortable fit and height, and have the proper amount of flexibility yet sturdiness. 

If you or your loved one would like to receive sessions of Physical therapy to help improve balance and lower risk of falls, please contact our office. Research has shown that balance training exercises with a physical therapist can reduce risk of falling and improve balance. We serve Livingston, East Hanover, West Caldwell, Florham Park, West Orange, Millburn, South Orange, New Providence, Summit, Chatham, Madison, as well as surronding townships in Essex,Union, Morris, Warren,  You can reach me personally at patrick@hometherapy.life or by calling 973-775-9626 ext 103 to help you get started with physical, occupational, or speech therapy at the conveniance of your home.