Research shows that people with knee pain have a 25% greater risk of falling than people without pain. It’s also been found that one in three older adults falls each year. Falls can result in severe injuries, such as hip fractures.
To reduce your risk of falling, improve your balance with exercises that build strength and flexibility, says rheumatologist Rob Keenan, MD, at Duke Medicine in Durham, North Carolina. Improving your response time – that is, how quickly you react to stop yourself from falling – also can help, explains Alexander Aruin, PhD, a professor of physical therapy and bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Here are four ways to improve your balance and response time.
Play catch. People who caught a 2-pound medicine ball thrown to them from 3 feet away improved their response time, according to a 2015 study Aruin performed, published in Experimental Brain Research. “Catching a ball teaches your brain to prepare for disturbances,” he says. Bouncing a ball against a wall also helps.
Try tai chi. This ancient practice uses slow movements that challenge your balance, strength and flexibility. Research has found that people with arthritis significantly improved their balance after two months of tai chi.
Do balance training. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, then slowly step them closer together until you feel unsteady or they’re side by side. Work up to balancing on one foot at a time up to 30 seconds. Hold on to something as needed to steady yourself while trying these.
Close your eyes. When you feel confident, try doing the feet-together or one-leg balance with your eyes closed. Have something stable nearby to grab for support if needed.
Author: SHARON LIAO
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