According to the NIHSeniorHealth newsletter, 1.6 million seniors are treated for fall-related injuries each year. Some of the contributing factors: poor balance, dizziness, diminished leg strength, tripping on obstacles such as rugs or uneven surfaces, and bathtub/shower slips.
Wina Sturgeon, author of the “Daily Juice”, cites the foot-dragging syndrome as a major culprit causing falls. As we age, our walking gait changes and we fail to lift our feet as high with each step, our dragging toe(s) can catch on carpet or a rise in the sidewalk and down we go. As a fix for foot-dragging, Sturgeon recommends taking a few minutes each day to ‘march’ while consciously lifting each foot at least six inches with every step. You may feel a little ridiculous at first, but walking with a spring in your step not only helps to eliminate foot-drag, you look more energetic and youthful.
If you tried the experiment of locking your ankles and trying to walk from my Let’s Talk Ankles post, you will remember how your feet shuffled and dragged along, literally tripping you up within a few steps. In an aha moment you probaby realized that your feet and ankles still need more stretching, extension, flexion and strength in order to engage and walk with an energetic stride. I call it walking with purpose.
In keeping with my promise to provide you with top-notch resources, this video by Caroline Jordan is a wonderful mix of foot and ankle exercises and stretches using some simple tools. As with any videos or exercise information I provide, you may adapt or modify to suit your abilities and you can be seated or use a balance aid such as a chair/wall. I suggest skipping the part where you close your eyes the first few times through. Although closing your eyes does add to the challenge of staying balanced, the biggest benefit will come from the stretch, extension, flexion, and strength you gain in your ankles and feet. You can always close your eyes after doing the exercises a few times.
That’s the spirit!