Falling in love is wonderful! Yet, accidental falls are a leading cause of injury and emergency room visits. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that, on an annual basis, falls affect 1 in 3 older adults.
Follow these 5 tips to “fall-proof” your life, at any age:
1. Improve your awareness.
Distraction and boredom are the leading causes of accidents behind the wheel and at work. Both pull you out of the present moment. Mindfulness practices, such as meditation, yoga, and Feldenkrais, can develop your capacity for awareness to “be here, now.” When you improve your overall awareness and ability to pay attention, you will increase your personal safety.
2. Take your time.
“Hurry” creates carelessness, distraction, error — and greater risk of injury. You can learn to move quickly without hurrying! When you stand up, take just a few moments to “get organized” before you go lurching off immediately and risk a fall. In less than 10 seconds, you can feel and re-position your feet so that you can walk without turning your knee or ankle. Feeling the surface of each foot on the floor (whether barefooted or not) can help you feel more stable and secure in movement.
3. Develop coordination, along with strength and flexibility.
The value of exercise to maintain overall health is well known. And yet, coordination seems undervalued in many exercise programs. The appearance of proper form may not tell the whole story. If you are holding your breath during an action, or if you feel unpleasant twinges with the exertion, then those are clues (learned through sensing) that your coordination could be improved. In fact, well-coordinated movement feels like it flows easily, and there is no feeling of strain (as distinct from the work required). Classes or lessons in the Feldenkrais Method can help you to fine-tune your everyday movements for better coordination. This fine-tuning process will also positively affect your balance, posture, and gait – all elements of organized movement. Improved coordination can help keep you safe.
4. Adapt to prevent falls.
In your home environment, make sure that floors and walkways are clean and cleared. Rugs should be securely fastened to the floor to avoid slippage. If you need a rail in the tub, install one. Wear shoes with skid-proof soles. If you must use a ladder or step-stool, be sure that it is properly braced, and see if you can get a friend to spot you. Line yourself up (and your center of gravity) directly with what you are reaching for. Re-position the ladder, rather than leaning.
Sometimes, YOU must do the adapting. Get your eyes checked and corrected if necessary, and turn on an extra light if you need to. Alcohol, sugar, and some food allergies can cause impairments that affect your balance, awareness, and attention, so “know thyself” and take appropriate action.
5. Learn to fall.
For high-performance martial artists, falling is an every-moment possibility. They don’t try to avoid falling. Instead, they learn to fall WELL, and they practice it until they have mastered it.
The usual reaction to the feeling of falling is to powerfully contract the extensor muscles (also known as the “anti-gravity” muscles) of your back and neck, and to “brace” the fall with a rigid and outstretched limb. The resulting stiffness practically guarantees that you will, indeed, fall – and that you’ll be hurt. Regular lessons with a Feldenkrais teacher can safely and gently teach you how to feel softness in your body, how to fold and roll with minimum impact – and get up again!
Mindful movement can help you to move safely and comfortably at any age. Let us show you how!