Physical therapy can help prevent falls among older adults - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Physical therapy can help prevent falls among older adults

Simple exercise can help build strength and prevent falls. Simple exercise can help build strength and prevent falls.

According to the Center for Disease Control, one in three older adults will fall in their life.  That can lead to expensive doctor bills and even death.  But Dough Lacey, a physical therapist at Mercy Medical Center has some ways to stay strong and upright.

Lacey works with patients to stretch and build strength to help them prevent a fall.

"We know from evidence based practice that our ankles control a lot of our balance, so when our heel cords get shorter, it's going to ultimately affect your balance," says Lacey.

He focuses on two things; building core strength and stretching the Achilles tendon.

"All of that adds up to less risk for falling," says Lacey.

He gives his patients easy exercises they can do at home to help.

"An easy way to stretch the heel cord is to take a belt and to put it on the ball of your foot and get a nice long stretch for a count of five to ten seconds and then let up and go into it again," says Lacey.

Lacey says a sheet will do the same thing or you can use a wall for the stretch.  He says an exercise ball can be used to build core strength.

"An easy way is to sit on a Swiss ball with supervision," says Lacey.  "Sit there or rock back and forth and side to side and you can feel your abdominal muscles and your back muscles working."

To help with balance, stand with one foot in front of another, or stand on one foot.  He says to hold the pose for twenty seconds and repeat it several times.

"We know the benefits of exercise anyway and but it's just good to stay active and keep the joints moving and keep the muscles strong," says Lacey.  "It may mean the difference when they get on ice or a slick surface that their reaction time and strength might prevent a fall."

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