Look Out Below!

Are you starting to look down intently at the ground in order to watch where your'e walking? Do you need to use the chair to push yourself up out of the chair? Do you find yourself reaching for walls, furniture or people when you walk? Are you afraid to walk across the grass or that uneven dirt trail that you use to love to hike? Have you stopped doing things or going places because you're afraid you might fall?

If you, or someone you know and love, said yes to any of these questions, then you know how limiting the fear of falling can be. It can make your world a smaller, less fulfilling place. The fear of falling that people feel as they age is well-founded. Seniors' risk for falling increases as they age and the consequences of a single fall can be absolutely devastating.

Preventing Seniors from falling and keeping them active is near and dear to my heart. My grandfather, the most influential person in my life, died from complications of a simple fall while he was traveling with his wife. His life and the lives of those around him were never the same after that fall, which caused a hip fracture. This hip fracture required surgery, and several subsequent hospitalizations until, finally, he died in the hospital. He NEVER got back to the health he enjoyed before that fall. Yes, I agree that falls are something to be feared and should be taken very seriously as we age. However, instead of attempting to manage this fear and condition on your own and making unfulfilling choices like limiting your world and life, TALK to your podiatrist. Podiatrists are the experts in the medical field for keeping people walking, and on their feet. I credit my grandmothers longevity and ability to live independently to the her podiatrist who kept her walking into her senior years.

Some basic suggestions to avoid falls:

  • Wear Good Footwear that is supportive and light weight. There is a range of footwear choices that have a wide base for support, are light weight and attractive.
  • Support Your Arches. Some individuals will need a contoured arch support that matches their unique arch shape. All arch supports are NOT created equal. Only those that provide good arch contact, matched with the right amount of support and flexibility for your foot needs, will be able to provide the correct amount of support.
  • Stretch and Strengthen. Tight and limited ankle flexibility cause the body to make compensations, which in turn will lead to muscle imbalance and instability. Improving calf flexibility by stretching the lower extremeties and strengthening core muscles with an exercise program will help stability and balance.
  • Think With Your Feet. Improving your proprioception (internal awareness of the body's position, in this case, the feet) in relation to the ground. Using creams to avoid dry skin, nerve supplements to generate nerve regrowth, mild compression to aid joint proprioception, and simple balance excercises can all improve proprioception.
  • Use Your Tools. Custom functional foot, and foot & ankle devices for risk individuals can help stabilize areas that need extra support.

The doctors at Sierra Foot & Ankle are here to help keep you walking safely. We will develop an individual treatment plan that is right for you: shoes, contoured functional foot or foot & ankle devices, skin care, management of physical therapy or peripheral neuropathy. Call our office today to make an appointment. You can trust our office to deliver not only exceptional foot and ankle services, but more importantly to "show you, our patient, genuine feeling and deep concern for your well being".

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