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I had the great pleasure of taking my dear Grandad down to Avon Mill at the weekend with my little girl for a cup of tea and piece of cake. This incredible man was a farmer and worked from the age of 12 to support his family. He has led a super active life and used his body more than anyone I know. His movement has not surprisingly really changed in the last few years. He hurts a lot.
Gramps is in his 90’s and has severally arthritic knees, among other things, which he is now barely able to bend when standing. He walks very slowly these days, with his legs wide and is always searching for something to hold to steady himself when his stick or walking frame aren’t close to hand. If he has to turn around it takes time and lots of small steps!
Grandad has lost options in how he moves because lots of things hurt and he has had to adopt other ways of moving and strategies to stay as balanced as possible with what he’s got.
He has wide legs when he walks to increase his base of support to balance on. You can see that if Gramps’ balance was suddenly challenged and he had to quickly and automatically move to stay on his feet it’s going to either hurt him a lot or he will fall over. What is required of his body to stay upright may not be possible these days due to the reduced range of movement he has in certain joints and reduced strength in certain muscle groups. We see these problems in our older population every day. Physiotherapy can help enormously but don’t leave it too late!
Watching my little girl play next to Grandad was eyeopening. Consider how children move. They jump, stretch, twist and bend. They topple over and save themselves. They also fall, roll, bounce and get up again without hurting themselves (generally!). When did we lose this ability to do all these movements without having a serious injury or breaking something?!?
If you don’t use it you lose it!
This is important for us all to realise. Much research has been done on falls in our older population. Some of the best evidence shows that keeping as agile and fit as possible is the best way to prevent falls as you get older. Keeping options and variability in how you move is vital. Keeping your joints moving through big ranges of movement and strong gives you more options that you are more likely to use quickly and automatically to save yourself and balance to prevent falling.
Your “One Thing” to do this week is to please please please start doing something to look after your body and get it moving and keep it moving now, address the stiffness you feel or loss of movement you’ve got. Get your loved ones, nearest and dearest to do something too. It is never too late to do something proactive to help yourself and invest in your future you. What better investment is there?…
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