Balance Assessment

Balance – this isn’t “work-life” balance, but physical balance.

Remember doing fun balance play as a child such as walking along a curb, a crack in the sidewalk, or even better – a log or board? When is the last time you had fun with a Balance activity?

A Question of Balance:

  • When was the last time you tripped over something? Stubbed your toe on something? Miss-judged a step? — Did you catch yourself?
  • When was the last time you really stretched to reach for something, extending over your “comfortable” center-of-balance?
  • Do you have cats, dogs, children, or any other small and fast-moving objects in your home?

Balance can start to decrease in middle-age, and older adults with reduced balance ability are at greater risk of falling.

More than 1/3 of adults over the age of 65 fall each year in the US.

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Finding my Limits

One of the best things to come out of my hike in South Dakota is a real test of my hiking training program.

Unfortunately the Chicago area is very limited for hills, and stair training can only do so much – so now I’m adding additional exercises to improve my functional strength, stability and mobility in three areas of limitations:

Ankles, Hips and Wrists!

Ankle and Hip limitations are almost self-explanatory – just look at this terrain:

SoDakUp2

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Intro to Nordic Walking

Just a quick note to announce upcoming Intro to Nordic Walking sessions for June!

Join me at the park along the lake in Evanston.

Thursday June 1st at 6pm

or

Sunday June 4th at 12:00

Come learn about the many benefits of Nordic Walking and participate in a brief walk.

Walking poles will be provided.

RSVP to reserve your spot and get meeting location details.

sand walker clipped

 

Spring Walks & Classes

Is Spring really here?

Or are we getting teased with good weather before getting hit with more cold & rain?

I’m putting some of the monthly Free Introduction to Nordic Walking sessions on the calendar for April, May and June:

First Tuesdays of the month at 9:00 am in Glenview

First Thursdays of the month at 6:00 pm in Evanston

First Sunday’s of the month at 1:00 in Morton Grove

Classes will follow on Tuesday mornings and Thursday evenings at the same locations.

Group Walks will follow the Intro class on Sundays.

Check out the Events calendar for more information & RSVP to reserve your spot.

Mobility Monday – Falling

The Fear of Falling can create a Cycle of Increased Risk

Sometimes the fear of falling can inhibit an individual’s willingness to participate in activity, but decreased physical activity leads to decreased balance skills and physical conditioning, which can in turn lead to an increased risk for falling!

falling circle

There are a number of risk factors for falling, many of them listed in more detail here:  Causes & Risk Factors

 

 

Physical Activity and Fall Reduction

  • Muscle weakness, especially in the legs: Resistance Training should be considered to increase muscular strength. Select a program that incorporates Power Training as well as Strength to train in more dynamic movements and further decrease risk of falls due to muscle weakness.
  • Balance and gait: Walking poles can assist with balance as well as some gait issues. They can also allow you to walk with more safety while you participate in physical activities.
  • Sensory problems: Walking poles have been used by individuals with peripheral neuropathy or other sensory problems to provide feedback and increase walking confidence.

Walking poles should not be used on flooring or surfaces that do not provide a good grip. Make sure that your walking tips are appropriate for the surface you are on!

Pole-Tips-from-Carol-at-Y
Trekking – Mobility – Fitness Tip Types

Professional Resources

Talk to your medical professional, physical or occupational therapist to see which physical or medical condition(s) can contribute to your risk of falling, and identify ways that you can address these concerns.

Consider having an assessment done of your home to identify potential causes of falls that can be corrected.

See if your local Senior Center has a Balance or Fall Prevention class that can help you with a balance assessment and specialized training that addresses your needs.

Mobility Monday – Obstacle or Adventure?

Obstacle or Adventure?

When confronted with stairs or hills, do you see them as an Obstacle, or an Adventure?

What about other parts of your life?

  • Do you park at the back of the lot, or drive around until you find a space close to the door?
  • Elevator, escalator or stairs?
  • Walk to dinner, or drive? or delivery?
  • Paper or plastic?

ok, maybe not the last one…

 

 

Adventure is an aspect of Attitude

Don’t let something like hills, stairs, or anything else become an obstacle to your walking activity. Don’t let the rain or the snow keep you inside.

Break the obstacle down into smaller segments if you can, develop a strategy for tackling each segment:

  • Strength – if multiple stairs are difficult for you, are there exercises you can do to improve your leg strength?  Strength Link
  • Stamina – also referred to as Endurance, maybe you can’t tackle the full distance, but can you work up to it? Endurance Link
  • Stability – if you have stability challenges or are concerned walking on certain surfaces, there are techniques and equipment that can help.
  • Balance & Flexibility –  both are important in reducing the risk of falling, considering adding balance training and flexibility movements to your physical activities. Balance and Flexibility links.
  • Pain – talk to your medical professional about pain management options, find the best time of day for you to be active, move only within pain-free ranges of motion, and make sure you warm up and cool down properly during activity.

Putting it all together: The National Institute on Aging has a good page describing the many benefits of exercise as applied to your daily life. As I continue with Mobility Monday articles I will detail out many of these benefits as well. Benefits Link

Do a little bit at a time and those bits will keep adding up.

  • Explore the idea of using walking poles if that can help you
  • Consult a medical professional, physical or occupational therapist, or personal trainer for specific recommendations
  • Find a friend to accompany you and to encourage you

“If you think you can or think you can’t, you are right” – Henry Ford

 

Calling all Weekday Walkers!

I’m putting together a list of potential weekday walkers to see if I can get some more walking groups together (either Nordic Walking or regular walkers welcome!)

Please contact me or comment below with preferred weekday, time of day and city of residence so I can try and find what works best for the most people!

 

Some of the Proposed Park Locations:

Evanston: Centennial Park at the lakeshore

Glenview: Gallery Park

Lincolnwood/ Skokie: Proesel Park or Centennial Park

Glenview/ Morton Grove / Skokie: Harms Woods section of North Branch Trail (North or South)

Winnetka/ Northfield: Skokie Lagoon (longer walk)

Wilmette/ Glencoe/ Winnetka: Green Bay Trail (longer walk)

IMG_20160811_104109462_HDR
Gallery Park – Gravel Loop