It’s a fact that 1 out of 3 senior citizens falls each year. More than 700,000 older patients end up in the hospital after a fall, including 250,000 with hip fractures. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – CDC). Falling is a real risk for older people and many times balance issues are the problem.
Many conditions can contribute to a deteriorating sense of balance. Some of these are eye/vision problems, numbness in the feet (neuropathy), problems with the inner ear, arthritis, circulation or heart problems. Balance issues can also be caused by long-term diseases of the nervous system like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.
Exercises to Improve Your Balance
Whatever the cause, there are measures you can take to slow the decline of balance control. Balance exercises can be very effective in helping you improve the control of your body whether still or moving (always get your doctor’s permission before beginning any exercise program.)
- Stand on one foot while holding onto a chair. Hold for 10 seconds, repeat 10-15 times, then repeat with the other foot.
- Focus your eyes on a spot ahead of you. Take small steps to move in a straight line toward the spot, placing the heel of each foot directly in front of the other foot’s toes. Take 20 steps.
- Focus on a spot ahead and walk toward it with arms outstretched to the side. Lift your back leg with each step, pausing for a second. Repeat 20 times, alternating legs.
You can find more exercises at this National Institute of Health Senior Health website. Tai chi is also an excellent exercise to build balance.
Select Shoes Carefully To Encourage Better Balance
Wearing the right shoes is key in improving your balance. Follow these tips:
- Check your shoes with the 1-2-3 test. 1) Press both sides of the heel – it should be stiff. 2) Check for flexibility by bending the shoe. There shouldn’t be too much bending in the toe area but you don’t want it to be inflexible. 3) Twist the shoe – it shouldn’t twist too much.
- Shop later in the day and be sure to have your feet measured professionally every time.
- Bring your own socks to try on with shoes.
- Walk around the store. Shoes should be immediately comfortable and stable – there should be no “breaking in” period.
- Bring your orthotics along when shoe shopping.
If you have any questions about your foot stability or would like help selecting a shoe style that’s best for you, please visit us at Your Next Step. We can examine your feet and recommend shoes that are both stylish and supportive.
Our in-office shoe store offers many brands and styles to fit your unique needs.
Contact Us for Foot Stability Help
Dr. Eric Ricefield, Dr. Mark Yagodich and Dr. Aliza V. Eisen, board certified or qualified podiatrists have the right experience to help with any balance issues or other foot and ankle conditions. You’ll find contact information at the website for our Ardmore, Paoli and Downingtown offices. Please call us today – we can help!