6 Questions To Help Reduce Falls and Maintain Good Balance As You Get Older!

As we get older, falling, and recovering from a fall, becomes more of a concern. Prevention is key here, so I’ve put together six key questions to ask yourself.

1.   Has your balance been getting worse and do you need to see your GP or other health specialist to be checked out with regard to the following?:-

  • Eyes - do you need cataract surgery, new glasses or other treatment to improve your vision? Avoid wearing bi-focals or multi-focals when walking outside or climbing your stairs. Use single focus glasses only when on the move!

  • Ears - any problems with the ears affects the balance centres and can cause vertigo or dizziness, so get these problems checked out and treated where possible.

  • Neuropathy - the loss of sensation in the feet is a common symptom of some medical conditions.

  • Weakness in the legs and back following injury or surgery which has not been rehabilitated.

  • Medication review – certain prescription such as opioids, blood pressure, sedative and antihistamine medication may cause dizziness as a side effects- if you experience this, discuss it with your GP or pharmacist.

    Some more general factors to consider:

  • Sleep - are you allowing yourself 8 hours per night even if you aren’t sleeping the entire time?

  • Food and diet - you need plenty of vitamin D and calcium for your bones, and lean protein for muscle strength.

  • Hydration - you need to drink 1.5 litres/8 glasses of fluid per day (and more as it gets hotter!) to keep your blood volume up. If you are dehydrated, this causes your blood pressure to drop and make you feel dizzy. 

2.   Are you getting regular exercise?

Research has shown that regular exercise improves balance especially if its around 3 hours per week- this could work out as only 30 minutes, 6 days per week . The best exercise includes:

  • Walking 

  • Daily strength exercises for your muscles

  • Daily specific balance exercises.

For a complete handout outlining some good strength and balance exercises to get you started, contact us at Elizabeth House Osteopathy.

3.    How are your reaction times?

If you feel yourself about to fall, having quick reactions will help you right yourself, or get your arms out to stop you falling on your face. To improve your reactions, try:

  • Regular hand clapping and catching games /exercises.

  • Avoiding distraction when on the move, like talking on the phone or texting.

  • Keeping awareness in your body at all times, paying attention to your core as you move.

4.     What shoes are you wearing?

  • The most supportive footwear are lace ups with a low collar and standard hardness of sole.

  • Avoid bare feet, socks, tights, high heels, or soft floppy slippers! 

  • Try an in-sole- preferably textured, but any good in-sole will do. Some research shows it will improve your balance.

5.    Have you checked your home environment?

  • Clear the floor – make sure no rugs, electrical cords, or toys could potentially trip you up. Wipe up spills wet areas and make sure all mats are nonslip.

  • Lighting – make lighting as bright as possible and let lots of natural light in during the day. For night time trips to the bathroom turn on the lights, or better yet, you could get automatic lights! Make sure you also have a bedside light nearby that’s easy to switch on.

  • Rails- especially helpful around any stairs and bathroom areas.

  • Outdoor areas and pathways – check they are clear and free of slippery hazards such as moss or ice.

6.     Have you thought about a Medical Alert System?

Finally, medical alert systems are really useful, as they alert someone to help you if you do fall and cannot get up. There are many different types on the market to choose from. It also helps to have a strategy planned out for what to do if you do fall.  

Regaining you confidence after a fall

Addressing the above points will help you regain your confidence if you have had a fall or are simply afraid of falling. It is best to get checked out after a fall, even if you feel fine.  Let someone know it happened, and see your GP, or visit us- at Elizabeth House Osteopathy as we can help you to recover from the injury of a fall.

We can also offer a physical assessment of your strength and balance and provide you with some tailored exercises to do at home to improve your walking and movement. Call for further information or book a free 15 minute consultation by phone or at the surgery to discuss.




12 Tips For Healthy Sleep (Allow yourself to get 8 hours per night!!)

Getting a good 8 hours of sleep every day is the foundation of good health even more so than healthy eating or exercise. These top twelve tips have been summarised from the recent book by Matthew Walker, Why We Sleep: The new science of sleep and dreams.

  1. The most important tip of all : stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Do not sleep later on weekends as you will not fully make up the sleep and it will disrupt your pattern for Monday morning. Set an alarm for bedtime.

  2. Exercising every day for 30 minutes is great, but no later than 2-3 hours before bedtime.

  3. Avoid caffeine and nicotine. Coffees, colas, certain teas and chocolate contain the stimulant caffeine and can take up to 8 hours to wear off fully so avoid in the late afternoon . Nicotine is also a stimulant which can make you sleep only very lightly and can make you wake up early due to withdrawal.

  4. Avoid alcoholic drinks before bed. Heavy alcohol use robs you of REM sleep keeping you in the lighter stages of sleep and may affect your breathing. It also tends to make you wake up during the night when the effects have worn off.

  5. Avoid large meals and beverages late at night.

  6. If possible avoid medicines that delay or disrupt your sleep. if you are having trouble sleeping, talk to your GP or pharmacist to see if your medications might be involved and whether you could alter the time of day you are taking them.

  7. Naps are great for making up for lost sleep at night but don’t take naps after 3 pm as they may prevent you from falling asleep so easily that night.

  8. Allow time to unwind and do not over schedule your day so that you have time to relax before bed. Reading or listening to music for at least 30 minutes before going to sleep are good elements of a bedtime ritual.

  9. Take a hot bath before bed as the drop in body temperature afterwards will help to make you feel sleepy. This is also a good way to unwind.

  10. Dark bedroom, cool bedroom, gadget free bedroom and comfortable bed and pillow make for better sleep. No TVS, tablets, PCs, phones or anything else that might distract you . And turn the clock face out of view whilst trying to sleep.

  11. Get enough exposure to daylight to help regulate your sleep pattern. At least 30 minutes of daily exposure to sunlight is recommended. If you struggle to sleep , obtain an hour of sunlight exposure in the morning and turn the lights down low in the evening.

  12. Don’t lie in bed awake for too long. If after 20 minutes of lying in bed trying to sleep you are getting anxious or worried about sleeping, get up and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy.

Dog walking injuries: let’s talk about it!

Dog walking injuries: let’s talk about it!

Let's be frank, owning a dog is on the whole good for our health.  Dogs get us up, out, and walking (whether we feel like it or not!), which is brilliant for those of us that might not otherwise get the chance to prioritise exercise.

I have however seen examples of dog walking leading to the odd injury, in both patients at my Osteopathy clinic, and experiences of my own- I had the privilege of taking on a German Shepherd puppy last summer, who is now nearly 8 months old and weighs 35 kilos! The most common dog walking injuries that I treat using Osteopathy are back or leg pain following a fall, shoulder injuries from dogs pulling on the lead or repetitive ball throwing and foot problems such as plantar fasciitis or tendon injuries from poor footwear.

So, without further ado, here are three simple ways to reduce your chances of injury when walking your dog!