If you generally step more gently as you go down the stairs, hold the hand-railing a little bit tighter, and take careful note of where your feet land next… you’re not alone. The vast majority of us, whether consciously or subconsciously, fear the sudden jolt and feeling of vertigo related to taking a tumble – not to mention the pain that comes afterwards! Our worst fears are realized when we start to think about the horrendous consequences of a fall: hip fractures, muscle tears, back pain, even broken legs. Yikes! Is it any wonder that a common theme in nightmares is falling out of bed? In fact, a fear of falling is so common that most people don’t even know they’re afraid! That’s right – the fear isn’t consciously spoken about or acknowledged. Instead, it translates into minute, prolonged posture and gait (walking) abnormalities which, if left unnoticed, can wreak havoc on one’s mobility and self-confidence. That’s why this post looks at why most people fear falling, why many don’t even recognize that fear, and – thankfully – what we can do about tackling this problem.
Being afraid of falling is more than a cautious tiptoeing around objects; it’s an overarching alteration of the way we assess, approach, and interact with the world around us. Unbeknownst to many of us, the fear of falling actually restricts our movement. Thus it can, in fact, cause pain and immobility over time. And not only that, it can actually reduce self-esteem, restricting us from otherwise social interactions along the way. So few of us ever really acknowledge the cumulative effects of our fear that we forget how our daily lives are being impacted. We become accustomed to limitations and we accept our worries as part of life. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way! Take a look at some of the most common causes of fear of falling and what to do about it:
Decreased Balance Increases the Risk of Falls
As you’ve grown older, you’ve stopped riding on your bicycle, practicing yoga, and rowing down the river in your canoe. The result? Your balance has deteriorated and you’ve started feeling the impact on your mobility. The fewer balance-orientated activities you do, the less you hone your balancing skills, thereby allowing weight to be unevenly distributed throughout your body. This causes straining and overcompensation in some areas and weakness in others. Subsequently, an unbalanced body wreaks havoc on your brain: it is that much more likely to fear falling. After all, it knows your balance is off! What can you do? Well, get back on the yoga mat, dust off the bicycle, and start practicing activities that increase your balance. A daily effort to evenly distribute weight and create a greater awareness of your body’s balance is, ultimately, a giant leap on your road to overcoming the fear of falling.
Muscle Weakness Contributes to Falling.
Just as you’ve given up rowing, you’ve also neglected to do your daily walks or stretches. Thus, your muscles have started to weaken and lose strength. Without muscle strength, your body isn’t capable of providing the confidence needed to overcome a fear of falling. Again, your mind understands that your body is incapable of compensating for a fall if you have weak muscles. It trains you to restrict movement accordingly: it tries to lessen the probability of a fall. Why not start walking for 30 minutes a day? Muscle weakness starts alongside a sedentary lifestyle. Get active and feel the confidence return to both your body and mind!
When it comes to falling, footwear matters. Yes, of course, wearing 9-inch heels to the park is asking for a tumble. But realistically, wearing shoes that are incapable of supporting and distributing your weight evenly can also set you up for failure. Footwear needs to be comfortable and stable, giving you the reassurance of a good, strong, supported stride. In addition, good footwear helps your balance! So, don’t hesitate to ditch the heels and opt for support and comfort – your body and muscles will thank you for it!
Obstacle Awareness Decreases your Risk for Falls
Clutter, mounds of clothes, various sofas, and random chairs in your home place before your body a daily obstacle course. From stepping over a coffee table to swiveling around a badly-placed chair, these movements impact your peace of mind, place stress on your already weak muscles, and increase your fear of falling. The stress associated with navigating the living-room is, at its most basic level, akin to traversing an uneven hillside. The fact that you do it every day makes your mind and body feel as though you need to be protected, and thus your movements become limited. Obstacles feed your fear. Watching Marie Kondo helps with motivation enough to clean out the clutter. If you want to protect your body and mind, then waste no more time! Clear a path to freedom from fear!
Being afraid of falling is as much about your body as it is about your mind: the limitations your mind places on your body is affecting your life for the worse. Freedom from fear enables you to live the life you dream of, do the activities you long to do, and be the person you hope to be. We’re here to help you and we look forward to speaking to you about how we can assist you on your journey to achieving confidence in yourself and your body. Call us today at 208-237-2080; we look forward to hearing from you!