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Prevent Falls by Focusing on Strength and Balance Exercises

During a time when the U.S. is so focused on reducing the cost of overall medical expenses, ACPT physical therapist Joe Trimarchi shared that a staggering number, according to medical professionals, could be significantly reduced through preventative care.

$67.7 billion, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will be the total cost of fall injuries experienced by older Americans (65+) in the year 2020. Medicare and Medicaid will cover about three-quarters of these costs.

“This is a shocking amount of money, but the burden felt by older Americans goes beyond the pocketbook,” said Trimarchi. “Fall-related injury is a quality of life issue that affects people more and more as they age due to factors related to aging – factors like loss of muscle tone and strength, slower reflexes, less coordination, eyesight issues, and even the side effects of medication.”

One out of every four Americans 65 and older experience falls each year, says the CDC, leading to more than 2.8 injuries which span a spectrum from bumps, bruises and sprains to broken bones and head trauma.

“Just the fear of falling as you age, in fact, can result in limited activity, which only perpetuates that problem,” Trimarchi said.

“The lack of activity leads to a loss of muscle tone, good balance, and bone density, which can actually increase the risk of falls.”

But people of all ages can vastly reduce the risk of falling through exercise that focuses on both strength and balance. In fact, multiple studies show that training which focuses on both strength and balance can most effective lead to a reduction in falls among older adults. Taking physical therapist-led group exercise classes has specifically been shown to reduce the risk of falls while increasing balance and improving quality of life.

Trimarchi says that while this is great news, it’s important to keep in mind that all effective fall-prevention efforts should include the following components:

  • Fall Screening

    If fall prevention is the goal, an assessment of an individual’s personal risk of falling is an ideal place to start. A thorough fall screening with take look into a person’s strength, balance and coordination, as well as other factors such as vision, medication, medical history, footwear, and even home safety.

  • Balance Training

    A key to preventing falls is to maintain and improve balance. Doing so means continually challenging your body’s balance through personalized (and safe) exercises — single-leg stands, for instance.

  • Strength Exercises

    Maintaining good lower-body strength has been specifically cited as another key factor in fall prevention. A physical therapist can assess a person’s individual strengths and weaknesses and create a program that specifically addresses muscle groups that can improve balance and gait.

  • Environment Assessment

    A fall prevention strategy must always include specific suggestions on how to improve one’s environment for the sake of safety. Decluttering walk spaces, securing loose rugs, creating non-slip surfaces in the shower or tub, and even improving footwear can all go far in preventing falls.

Physical therapists are specifically trained to assess a person’s fall risk and develop an individualized plan to help with fall prevention. Schedule a free consultation with ACPT and take steps to maintain your independence and keep long-term health care costs in check.

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Importance of Balance and Flexibility Highlighted at the Winter Olympics

As millions marvel at the world’s top competitors performing athletic feats on cold, wet, and slippery surfaces during this month’s 2018 Winter Olympics, ACPT’s chiropractor, Dr. Traudt sees an ideal educational opportunity for local athletes and fitness-minded people.

While we watch Alpine skiers speed through difficult downhill courses and figure skaters bound balletically across the ice, Dr. Traudt sees performances that vividly highlight the importance of two oft-overlooked elements of good fitness and training routines: of balance and flexibility.

“When we work to prepare our bodies for a certain activity, or simply for the rigors of living an active lifestyle, we shouldn’t only be focusing on strength and cardio fitness,” said Dr. Traudt. “It’s a good start, but if your balance and flexibility are below par, performance will be limited and the body will be more susceptible to injury.”

Few things highlight this more than winter sports and activities, such as those featured during the Winter Olympics.

“Winter sports provide the ultimate challenge to balance and flexibility,” said Dr. Traudt. “Both balance and flexibility work together to keep these athletes upright while they adapt to new terrain, changes in position, etc. The importance of this is obvious on snow and ice, of course, but the same concept applies in everyday life.”

Whether your personal goals include competing better athletically, getting outdoors more for hiking, cycling or (yes) skiing, or simply feeling safer and more confident playing in the backyard with the kids, good balance and flexibility are key, he added.

Here are some simple recommendations to help improve balance and flexibility in your life:

Take an Exercise Class

Yoga, Pilates, step classes … they all strive to strengthen your core muscle groups, which are essential in achieving good balance. Plus, these classes often complement indoor cardio and resistance training – training that may do little to help with your balance.

Stretch Every Day

Take 10 to 15 minutes each day to stretch, either in the morning or just before bed. A stretch right before an activity will do little to help you out unless you’ve worked to establish a higher level of flexibility over the long term.

Perform Single-Leg Balance Exercises

Get your body accustomed to relying on one side at a time. Practice standing on one leg while tilting your body forward, back and sideways. Place your hand on a wall, countertop or piece of furniture if you need help balancing. Other single leg balance ideas include ball bounces, standing on a foam pad, and practicing with eyes closed … all in a safe setting, of course.


For a more individualized approach, chiropractors and physical therapists are specially trained to perform balance and flexibility assessments, which will pinpoint specific areas of strength and weakness. Such info, when combined with personal movement and fitness goals, can then be used to establish an individual fitness regimen that will specifically address any found weaknesses.