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Fall Prevention 101

November is fall prevention awareness month, which is aptly timed with winter coming around the corner and extra caution needed to avoid slips and falls. Often, we think of falls only affecting our elderly family and community members, but a fall can catch anyone off guard at any time and before you know it, gravity is working against you as you hit the pavement.

Here are some important facts that you need to know about falls:

· Falls are the leading cause of partial or full disability in people of any age and are the leading cause of hospitalization of seniors in Canada

· Head and neck injuries, such as concussions and whiplash injuries, can lead to chronic issues with balance and coordination

· Nearly 1/5th of middle and older adults experience issues with balance

· Balance problems become the number one complaint in people age 70 and older

· Fall related injuries cost over $8 billion per year in Canada

More importantly, most falls are preventable.

So, what can you do to not only reduce your own risk of falling, but help others around you as well?

1. Balance Exercises

These can be done at any age and can have life-long benefits. Simple balance poses can easily be incorporated into your daily activities, such as standing heel to toe or on one leg. If you want to challenge your balance, try closing your eyes or doing these poses on an unstable platform, such as a foam block, balance board, or just a folded-up towel (always remember your limits and be safe!). Alternatively, joining a structured class, such as yoga, Tai Chi, or Qi Gong, can be a fun way to improve your balance, strength, and coordination.

2. Core Stability Exercises

Similar to balance exercises, core stability exercises should be a regular part of your workout routine. Often when we think of our core we just think of working on our six-pack. However, your core is an entire muscular belt that holds you upright and is critical to maintaining your postural stability and balance. It is comprised of your abs, back, pelvic floor, and diaphragm. Exercises that engage all of these muscles include the plank, bridging exercises, and bird-dog exercises.

3. Remove Clutter

While this may seem obvious, all too often we leave things lying around that we intend to clean up later and before we know it an accident has happened. If you or someone you know is at risk of tripping or loosing balance, ensuring that things like cords, rugs, and general clutter are cleaned up is a good way to control and manage your environment.

4. Be a Snow Angel

With winter coming, make sure your sidewalks are cleared. This helps make it safer for everyone and your neighbours will thank you!

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Dr. Speranza is an upper cervical Chiropractor in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She follows the protocols of the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA) to help people experiencing problems with postural related dizziness regain balance, return to doing the activities that they love, and ultimately take back control of their health.

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