Updated: Oct 13
Leaves, twigs and branches, pine cones and other debris are making sidewalks, paths and trails slippery, and uneven surfaces invisible to the eye which increases our risk for slips, trips and stumbles. Fall is a beautiful time of the year, the crisp air, the changes in colors seen in nature which I truly enjoy on my daily walks, weekend hikes, and bike rides. Environmental risk factors for falling can increase in this time of the year, there are however ways to keep you safe and continue to enjoy the outdoors.
Wear well-fitting shoes with soles appropriate for the activity and environment. A good fitting shoe should hold the foot well back in the shoe. For outdoor walking the soles should be textured for grip, be thin enough to maintain flexibility under the ball of the foot. The heel should be broad and low ( less than 1 or 2 inches), feel snug and firm at the heel counter.
Walking sticks, hiking or trekking poles
Walking stick, hiking-or trekking-poles provide additional stability while navigating through wet and leaf covered sidewalks. They come with rubber tips, so you can use them for walking on hard surfaces (even indoors)– and you can take the rubber tips off when walking on dirt trails and paths. You don't have to hike in the mountains or navigate steep and uneven terrain to be able to enjoy the benefit of walking sticks.
Reducing your risk factors for falling
There are many reasons why falls happen, it is often a combination of things that effect the way we move about in our environment (indoors or outdoors) and react to challenges in our path. From environmental hazard such as a wet floor or slippery side walks in combination with muscle weakness, poor ankle or hip mobility, poor posture and poor core stability, reduced hearing, poor vision, and reduced sensation in the feet, all affects how well we move and respond to unexpected events. Pair these conditions with taking a new medication, having low blood pressure and dizziness, and the risk for falling increases even more. Adding osteoporosis or very low bone density to the picture and you can understand that a simple trip, stumble and fall can become a life changing event.
Balance can fluctuate daily, for example, a poor night sleep can affect your balance and increase fall risk. Balance generally deteriorates to an extent over a lifespan due to age-or disease-related changes in function, however physical inactivity is probably one of the more common reasons why we become at increased risk for falls and injury as we age.
To maintain our functional fitness and our independence we need to avoid illness, injury and physical INactivity. We want to hold on to our functional ability and our fitness level for as long as possible and maintain our skills that allow us to perform activities of daily living with ease and enjoyment. There is not much joy in life when each activity costs maximal effort and leaves you exhausted and worried about what's next?
Planning for long-term active aging
Fitness & Function has health and fitness professionals who specialize in restoring and optimizing balance and mobility. With appropriate interventions we help clients reduce the risk for falling and thus reduce the chance of injuries from a fall. Balance and mobility exercises as often incorporated as part of an overall exercise program, or are the main focus with a multicomponent and multi-sensory balance and mobility program such as the FallProof Balance and Mobility 12-week intensive Program or the Stay Well At Home 6- Month Program. Prevention is cheaper than treatment.