We’ve all done it. Walking along and unexpectedly, the toe of our shoe catches on something and we trip, possibly catching ourselves and regaining our balance or worse, falling on our face. Then we quickly look around to see if anyone saw us. We might catch the toe on a curb, a step, the carpet or just the ground. Usually, it is not a graceful loss of balance and can lead to a serious injury.
There are a few scenarios that could be occurring. You may not be lifting up your foot high enough to clear the ground when taking a step. The knee may not be bending enough when you swing your leg forward. Perhaps, you are shuffling your feet and taking small steps when you walk. Or your ankle joint is not bending upward fast enough for the foot to clear the ground from the point you lift the foot off the ground to the moment you place it in front of you.
The research reveals that if you walk with a shuffling pattern, you tend to fall more frequently than others. If you walk at a very slow pace, you may also be at risk for falls. These are signs of weakness and loss of flexibility in the legs. They are also signs of a decrease in confidence in your walking ability; when you lose your confidence in walking, there is a good likelihood that you will become more sedentary, thus becoming weaker, which leads to loss of function and a decline in the quality of life.
There are easy tips that you can try. Pay attention to your walking as you walk. If you simply pay attention to lifting each foot up and taking a step, research shows there will be a decreased risk for falls. It also means you shouldn’t walk and talk at the same time because talking can be a distraction and you may not see that curb. Be aware of your surroundings.
Inside the home, ensure that there is adequate lighting especially on stairs. Use a cane if you are a little wobbly walking. There are many factors that lead to good balance which I’ll discuss in future articles; this is a good place to begin.
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