Seniors: You Can Improve Your Balance

If you or a family member is a senior citizen, you know that aging can be accompanied by balance problems. Medical conditions like inner ear problems, vision issues, arthritis and heart or circulation problems can contribute to making you unsteady on your feet and cause fractures and sprains.

Additionally, neuropathy or nerve disease can cause foot numbness which may make you unsure of your standing or walking surfaces. Diseases of the nervous system such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's can also cause nerve deterioration over time.

With these problems affecting your balance, it's all too easy to fall and seriously injure yourself. Every year in the U.S., 700,000 older individuals are admitted to hospitals because of a fall, with hip fractures resulting in more than 35% of these (CDC report).

No matter your age, Palm Beach Orthopaedic Institute recommends that you take these simple steps to improve your balance:

Exercises Can Improve Balance and Strength

A tai chi program can improve balance as it relieves your stress. (Always check with your doctor first before beginning any exercise program.)

Try these easy exercises too:

  • While holding onto a chair, stand on one foot for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times and then use the alternate foot.
  • Walk in a straight line by placing the heel directly in front of the toes - take 20 tiny steps. Keep looking ahead of you, not at your feet.
  • Look at a spot ahead of you and stretch your arms out sideways. Walk toward the spot and lift your back leg and pause briefly with each step. Repeat 10 times, then alternate legs.

Always Wear Sturdy, Well-Fitting Shoes

You can evaluate your own shoes with the 1-2-3 test: 

  1. The sides of the heel should be firm when pressed.
  2. Check for flexibility in the toe area by bending the shoe. The toe should give easily but not too much.
  3. Twist the shoe by holding the heel and toe. You should be able to twist it somewhat but not excessively.

If it's time to update your shoe wardrobe for stability, invest in your balance by choosing good quality, sturdy shoes:

  • Shop for shoes later in the day when your feet are largest.
  • Have a professional measure each foot each time and always buy in the largest size.
  • Try the shoes out as you walk around the store. Look for comfort, no heel slippage and stability. You should never have to break in new shoes.
  • Always take along your own socks for trying on shoes as well as any custom orthotics.

We Can Help with All Types of Foot and Ankle Problems

Dr. John Schilero, DPM, board certified podiatrist has the right expertise to treat all foot and ankle conditions for senior citizens and patients of all ages. Please call us at 561-694-7776 EXT. 41 to make an appointment at one of our four offices conveniently located in Palm Beach County. You can also request an appointment at the website. Take steps today to improve your balance and reduce your risk of injury.