Trips and falls affect everyone at every age. From the time we take our first steps as a toddler, to our senior years when our balancing skills may become more challenging. “Free From Falls” is an 8-week fall prevention program designed specifically for people with Multiple Sclerosis, but the principals apply to everyone. Wendie Marlais teaches the Free From Falls program for the Arizona Chapter of the National MS Society and explains below some of the exercises and tips to keep you on your feet.
· Biological Risk Factors
Walking (gait) balance, and coordination problems
Spasticity and/or muscle tightness
Dizziness and vertigo
· Be Aware Of Your Environment
Uneven or slippery walking surfaces
Clutter on the ground
Small animals and/or children that can run in your path
Vision obstructions (dark, foggy, glare)
Cognition – Are you paying attention or distracted?
· Exercise, Exercise, Exercise
Center of gravity training
Access your balance confidence
Are you over confident or not confident?
»Overconfidence can lead to risky behaviors
»Fears can stop you from doing activities you enjoy
Gait pattern training
Posture training and awareness
Creating an exercise routine from a functional approach begins by identifying the movements that you would like to improve. Start by developing and maintaining strength that is specific to the activity. For example, if you want to improve your ability to stand from a seated position, you would focus on the muscles that will enable you to stand from various surfaces and heights. Also include a variety of exercises that work on flexibility, core, balance, strength and power.
When performed successfully, functional exercise can help maximize strength and minimize the overuse of muscles that have been compensating for their weaker counterparts. Ultimately this will lead to overall improved health, the ability to easily perform daily activities, enhance your quality of life and live with greater independence.
For more information about the Free From Falls Program contact The Arizona Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (480) 455-3959, Erika Edholm, Education and Advocacy Coordinator (http://www.arizonams.org).
Pilates by Marlais