Fall Prevention Movement Skills for the Active Ager

By: Bernadette O’Brien

As we age, our balance can decline, and falling can become a great fear. It’s critically important to condition and train the stabilizing muscles so that you can “catch” yourself from falling if and when you do lose balance. Try incorporating these simple and fun exercises into a daily or weekly routine, and you’ll find yourself feeling much more confident and stable in your everyday life.

BOSU® Bubble Wrap Game

We call this movement a game to make it fun.

The purpose of this skill is to strengthen the anterior tibialis and the quadratus lumborum. This is an effective fall prevention exercise because the movement skill works the anterior tibialis and trains balance of the stabilizing ankle and foot while working the contralateral quadratus lumborum and hip stabilizers of the mobilizing leg.

BOSU® Bubble Wrap is an effective and challenging movement skill because it works the core, employs one-legged balance and offers progressions and regressions.

Place the BOSU® Balance Trainer on the floor in front of you. Pretending it is a clock, stand behind the Balance Trainer at 6:00 o’clock. Align your spine and place your feet hip width apart, toes pointing forward about two inches from the BOSU® rim. Imagine your BOSU® dome is covered in Bubble Wrap. With one leg, press your foot, heel to toe, into the BOSU® dome, strengthening the anterior tibialis, as well as the quadratus lumborum. As you press down, pretend to snap as many “bubble wrap bubbles” as possible. Move your foot all over the dome breaking “bubbles” each time you press down. Each time you lift your leg you are performing a one-legged stance and working your balance. Do the same move with the other leg. Repeat the move 8-12 times on each side.


Regression

• Hold your arms to the side with flexed elbows, shoulder height, palms facing forward

Progressions
• Place your hands on your quadriceps to create more resistance
• Do the same move but progress by going around the BOSU® dome clockwise and then counter clockwise
• Increase the number of repetitions before changing legs
• To further increase your intensity dim and/or close your eyes while doing the movement


BOSU® Bilateral and Unilateral Bridges

The purpose of this skill is to improve bilateral and unilateral hip stability and hip function during gait, and decrease the risk of falling. It is a challenging skill for active agers because in order to execute the movement, you must lie on the floor in a supine position. Regressions and progressions are offered.

This is an effective fall prevention exercise because the bridge position provides isometric and isotonic lower leg and hip benefits. “Single leg bridges can dramatically improve stability of the ankle, knee, and hip complex and reduce falls.” (Shoenfelder).


Bilateral Bridges

Think of your BOSU® Balance Trainer as a clock in front of you. Stand behind it at 6:00 o’clock. Align your spine. Come to the floor by stepping into a forward lunge toward the Balance Trainer, placing your right foot on the floor at 2:00 o’clock and your left foot on the floor at 6:00 o’clock. Place your knee on top of the BOSU® dome. Lower your hips to the floor away from the BOSU® rim in a supine position, resting the cervical spine on the BOSU® logo on top of the dome. Place the BOSU® Soft Fitness Ball between the knees for adductor strengthening. Press your palms gently into the floor at the sides of the body. Pressing down and exhaling with an open mouth, lift the hips into extension. Lower and repeat for 8-12 repetitions.



Regression

• Do fewer repetitions

Progressions
• Manipulate ankle dorsiflexion and plantar flexion during the bridging
• Raise the arms toward the ceiling to decrease Contact Points


Unilateral Bridges

With the palms pushing into the floor, extend one knee for unilateral hip extension in the bridge position, with the BOSU® Soft Fitness Ball between the knees to train the adductors isometrically. Repeat for 8-12 repetitions.


Regressions

• Remove the BOSU® Soft Fitness Ball from between the knees
• Do fewer repetitions

Progressions
• Raise the arms toward the ceiling to decrease Contact Points
• Dim and/or close eyes to increase intensity

The bilateral bridge is effective because the movement strengthens the adductors and provides isometric and isotonic lower leg and hip benefits.

The unilateral bridge is effective because it is a key goal for all active agers based on research that agrees unilateral bridging can decrease risk of falling, improve gait and train the lower leg and hip complex with a stronger emphasis on strength and resistance than standing (since we remove standing balance from the equation).


Bernadette O’Brien is a BOSU® Development Team member and Master Trainer, specializing in functional movement and exercise for active agers. At 85 years young, “Super Betty” presents at conferences worldwide, spreading the active aging message.

 

References

Biscontini, Lawrence. 2014. BOSU® Mobility and Stability for the Active Aging Level 1 Certification Manual. BOSU®Fitness LLC.

O’Brien, Bernadette. 2016. “I Know My Stuff, But How Do I Teach It?”  Convention Presentation Handout.

Shoenfelder, D. 2000.  “A Fall Prevention Program.” Journal of Gerontological Nursing. March 26(3), 43-51.

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