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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
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Stability
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By Mazzenga Daniels
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By Mazzenga Daniels
May 19, 2013 10:18 p.m.

I think its time we discuss a topic that not many people associate with fitness. Stability. This would be accomplished with such exercises as single-leg squats, single-leg dead lift, step-ups, and stability ball crunches. These are exercises designed to test your balance, a key aspect to work on as you get older. They are important exercises for fall prevention, which is good for anyone!

Let’s take a look at some reasons why people fall. Environment has a large part to do with it. Uneven floors, unsecure rugs, and clutter are all big contributors to falling. Other risk factors include behavior, biological, and social/economic. Behavioral factors are risks such as physical inactivity, poor diet, and inappropriate footwear. Biological factors can be age-related physical, cognitive or visual decline. Social or economic factors would be; not having a social support system, or not being well informed of the dangers of falling and how to prevent them. In addition, certain medications can add to instability, as well as medical conditions such as stroke, vestibular (think inner ear) disorders, diabetes mellitus, joint replacements, or arthritis. Limited mobility of joints is a very large contributor also.

So now that we know what causes falling, how can we prevent it? To begin, de-clutter your house. Try to make sure your floors are as level as possible, and if they are uneven, at least know their layout and be prepared for it. If you have rugs, make sure they are properly secured. When walking, make sure your shoes fit properly. Make sure you are informed of how people fall and how to better prepare yourself if you do fall.

Let's take a look at some things you can do to help your body. Performing double leg exercises on one leg instead of two will help you to become better at balancing. I'm not saying you should just pick a leg up during your next squat or deadlift. Make sure you're around something that you can grab onto in case you get too wobbly. When starting, lift your foot off the ground just a little until you get used to the movement. Then work on taking it higher and higher. It would be best to not use weights when starting balance training. Work on getting stable, then add weight (little weight, then build up). Also, keep in mind that you have to keep your technique perfect throughout your exercises whether you use one foot or two. Keep your knees in line with your ankles, don't let them go over your toes. When doing a deadlift, keep your back tight, and shoulders squeezed together. If single leg exercises sound too hard, perhaps a BOSU is more your style. This is a dome shaped apparatus that sits on the floor and makes it hard to balance. You can start by using two feet and then step off and on side to side, front to back, or any way you please. You can also put a leg on it an perform squats or lunges. It tests your balance because its filled with air. Also on the market are stability discs. These are air filled and great for working on balance and stability. You can also use stability balls for core work. These are giant inflatable balls that you sit on and can do any number of exercises that really give you a great core workout.

Some simpler, household exercises can be picking up a leg & standing on one foot for however long you can hold it, and switching. Again, you want to make sure you are near something you can hold onto. When you get good at this, try closing your eyes and lifting a leg.

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