The Importance of Foot Strengthening to Reduce Falls
As we get older, something that is important to start considering is our increased risk of falling and injuring ourselves. It is a frightening fact that the chance of falling becomes much higher as we age. In fact, one third of people over sixty-five and half of people over the age of eighty-five will fall every year.
While that may be an alarming statistic, the good news is that you can significantly reduce the risk of falling through foot strengthening exercises and choosing the correct footwear.
The muscles in our feet are critical in saving ourselves from falling. These muscles weaken over our lifetime, so they require a simple strengthening program tailored to your feet to keep them doing their job as best they can. It takes just a three percent increase in toe strength to reduce your risk of falling by twenty percent.
At Bellevue Podiatry, we use a specifically designed platform called the ‘ToePro’ (find out more at www.mytoepro.com.au) to strengthen the foot muscles. This platform places the foot in a position that the muscles would be used to in walking, which strengthens the muscles four times faster than doing exercises with the foot flat on the ground. Our podiatrists are all trained to use the ToePro and will tailor a program specifically to your needs. This strengthening can start to show results in a matter of weeks.
Another very important factor in avoiding falls in older people is footwear. The wrong choice of shoes can drastically increase your chances of falling. When choosing footwear to avoid falls, we know that a range of features in a shoe are crucial. Here are some important things to remember:
- The heel base should be wide; narrow or very tapering heels reduce stability.
- The base of the shoe should have grip to it; try to avoid shoes with smooth, slippery soles.
- The shoes should always have either laces or a strap.
- The heel counter, the part of the shoe that wraps around the back of the heel, should be firm and not easily squashed with your thumb.
- Avoid wearing slippers, socks, or bare feet at home all day as this increases your chance of falling by up to 50%. If you can, keep a pair of shoes (that incorporate the features listed above) to wear around the house.
Following this simple advice can help you stay active and enjoying life! If you have any questions about what you have read here and would like to know more, please give us a call on (03) 9457 2336 to discuss further.