At the end of our RAMP (Range of Motion, Activation, Movement Prep…fancy way of saying warm up) we have some movements that improve your balance through locomotion. These movements are basic play ground exercises like skipping, side shuffling, cross over, 360 runs, etc. It’s amazing how many people can’t skip! We do this to help our members improve their balance (among other things). Prevent falling is one of the more common goals we hear from our older members.
Locomotion is simply moving from one point to another point, i.e. running.
Falling is a real fear as you age. Falling is also a real fear if your weak. I have VERY good balance from years of wrestling, Judo and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. When I was going through chemo, I would often lose my balance JUST WALKING DOWN STAIRS. If you want to feel what it will be like when you get older with no exercise…go through 2 months of chemo. Eye opener.
Why do we fall? Simple – because we lose our balance! However, WHAT causes us to lose our balance? Well…that doesn’t really matter. That’s the wrong question to ask, the right question is – how do I prevent myself from falling. That one is simple – improve your dynamic and static balance. And getting stronger, that tends to help with everything.
Static and Dynamic Balance
True story! As you age, you get weaker if your not working on getting stronger, that’s just a natural thing that occurs. Well, as your muscle mass/strength decreases, so does your ability to hold your self up right on one leg – static balance. Now for most people static balance isn’t the issue because it’s rare that someone just falls over from losing their balance standing still. That’s called passing out…and we can’t really train you to prevent that.
Dynamic balance is the issue. How many times have you heard – “I was walking and lost my balance, fell and hurt my arm/knee/hip/back, etc.” from a friend or older family member? A lot i bet! That’s dynamic balance – as you move from one leg to the other are you able to keep your center of gravity and mass between your legs and not outside your base of support.
Falling is an uncontrolled run, because all running is a controlled fall. Try it. Try to run with out leaning forward, you don’t really go very far. You must lose your balance ever so slightly, catch your self and then continue that…it’s just a series of falls. Now, running it’s self won’t improve balance because people tend to fall when they CAN’T RECOVER FROM LOSING THEIR BALANCE. Remember – walking is a controlled fall. We can fall great, but its when we can’t recover that we actually cause an injury to our self.
That’s where things like skipping, side shuffling, backwards running, etc. all come into play. By practicing those movements we haven’t done since we were kids we improve our dynamic balance, help ward against fall related injuries AND get to practice a skill we haven’t used in a while which helps the brain stay young. Plus, it’s a lot of fun! I dare you to skip with out smiling!
So…check out this short video on WHY we locomote after our RAMP and to hear a little bit more on dynamic balance.
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