December Newsletter- Winter Slips and Falls

Winter Slips and Falls

With winter just over the horizon, we’re quickly approaching the time of year when falls and slips are imminent. The older we get, it seems like the less balance and coordination we have, and blaming old age is an easy way to not do anything about it. However, it’s important to remember that as a child, you were playing balance beam on anything that even resembled a beam, jumping around, and constantly moving your body. As we enter into adulthood, a lot of the things we did as children are seen as taboo. In the work office, you don’t look around and see people trying to balance on chairs or jumping from tile to tile as if the floor was made of lava. These activities were key to training the systems responsible for balance and motion sickness. If we don’t incorporate this training into daily life, then we are going to have to set aside a few minutes a day to exercise our balance systems.

The systems responsible for balance are the vestibular system, proprioceptive system, and visual system. The vestibular system helps with spatial orientation, it allows the body to know how and where the head is placed. The proprioceptive system is responsible for knowing where the joints of the body are in space. It helps us to know how far our foot is from the floor, how close our fingers are together, and whether our elbows are bent or straight. Finally, the visual system allows us to actually see where our bodies are in space and how quickly we are moving. These three systems work together so that if one system fails, the other two are able to help take over.

By continuously training and exercising these different systems, we can achieve not only better balance, but also decreased motion sickness. You might remember being able to ride roller coasters when you were younger, but now the very thought of them starts making you sick. This is because your systems are not being properly exercised, and you are losing the ability to compensate for different movements.

For the next seven weeks, 2-3 exercises that focus on balance and motion sickness training will be placed on our Facebook page every Monday! All of the motion sickness exercises should make you slightly dizzy or nauseous. While this does not sound fun, remember the saying, no pain no gain. Unless you push your brain past its comfort point, no rehabilitation can be gained. Most people will feel the effects for 5-10 minutes after finishing the exercises. If you continue to feel dizzy or nauseous after an hour, decrease the amount or speed of the exercises for next time. Remember, start slowly and don’t overtax your system. This is a marathon, not a sprint. You can begin by trying out all of the new exercises on the first night or by choosing to only do one or two new ones a night and spreading them out throughout the week. Continue adding on to the previous weeks’ exercises and switching them up every night so that your body doesn’t adapt to one move only!

Here’s the first week!

When attempting these exercises, always make sure to be holding on to something stable or to be near something stable that you could easily grab if you begin to lose balance. If you start feeling overly nauseous or dizzy, take one hand and press down on the top of your head for a few seconds or make a pair of binoculars with your hands and look through them at the ground.

Week 1:

Motion sickness:  (More detailed explanation below)

  1. Eye movements up and down and side to side while holding the head still.
  2. Head movements up and down and side to side while not focusing the eyes.

1.Stand with feet shoulder width apart and arms at side. Without moving your head, look up as far as possible and then down as far as possible. Do this slowly for about one minute. If you are comfortable with this, increase the speed. Next, without moving your head, look to the right as far as possible and then to the left. Again, start slowly, and then increase the speed until you begin feeling uncomfortable. Do this for about one minute.

2.Now, without focusing your eyes on anything, move your head up and down. Then move your head right and left.  Start slowly, determine if you feel any motion sickness or loss of balance, and you can then either stop if you do or slightly increase the speed if you don’t notice anything. Do each of these for about one minute. Once comfortable with these exercises, begin trying them with your eyes closed as well.

Balance:  (More detailed explanation below)

  1. Holding onto a wall or something stable, lift one foot up to the opposite knee like a stork and hold it there for twenty seconds. Switch and repeat.

Begin standing with feet together and holding onto a wall or stable object. With your eyes open, slowly lift your right foot off the ground and bring it to your knee or as high as it can get. Hold this pose for 20 seconds. Do the same with the left. Repeat on each side 5 times. Once you feel comfortable, begin trying to raise your leg without holding onto anything. Additional add-ons include slowly turning your head to the right and left while continuing to hold the pose and holding the pose again while keeping your arms perfectly at your sides, then at 90 degrees, and finally with your arms raised above your head. As you begin to balance easier in this pose, work your way from 20 seconds to 30 seconds.

After mastering the exercise above, try going up on your toes. Keep both feet on the ground at first. For the truly masterful, you can begin doing the exercises on your toes with only one foot at a time!

Gonstead Difference