The Only Exercise That Prevents Falls 2015-08-26
“The greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." - Confucious
I have seen a lot of well-trained athletes use our Core Flyte stability trainers. There was the 19-year-old calisthenics stud I met in Los Angeles who held a handstand on Core Flytes… while on the sidewalk, no less. Our NFL partner, Steve Weatherford, performing a challenging series of plank progressions on Core Flytes during a workout video session at the Everlast Lab in New Jersey. And, nearly every day, Core Flyte customers posting their dazzling moves on Instagram.
For me, however, the most meaningful examples I see are instances of people rehabbing injuries with the help of Core Flytes, physical therapists finding creative ways to use Core Flytes to help stretch their clients safely, and older individuals using Core Flytes to improve their mobility so that they can perform daily tasks with more vigor.
We are featured in this month’s issue of Muscle & Fitness magazine, but it’s those using Core Flytes to retain muscle and get to a functional level of fitness that are most rewarding to see. I’m proud that we offer a tool for improving one’s stability and proprioception for all levels.
Balance and stability are critical to living longer, healthier, and happier lives. Every year, one out of every three Americans over the age of 65 reports being injured due to a fall. This leads to a quarter million hip fractures and, worse, over 25,000 deaths annually resulting from falls.
There are steps we can all take to improve our balance and stability, thus reducing the risk of dangerous falls. Exercise is certainly on the top of the list. Research shows, however, that repetitive exercise, such as weightlifting and running, cause the body to get into a bit of an “auto-pilot” mode, in which strength and endurance may improve, yet balance and stability do not. The body gets used to certain movements and eventually requires less and less brain activity to perform them. Let’s take a simple example: walking. When adults walk, as Runner’s World’s Alex Hutchinson says, “each step is essentially a controlled fall.” We typically do not think about lifting one foot, pushing our body forward with the opposite foot, and placing that moving foot down. No. We just walk.
If you think about it, walking is pretty complex. A lot needs to go right to avoid falling. Yet, we’ve mastered it. If we encounter an obstacle, such as uneven terrain, or a ramp, or stairs, or pain, or weak ligaments, or poor sight, walking becomes even more challenging. If our bodies are not properly trained, there is a greater likelihood of a fall while we walk. Thus, the out of three stat mentioned above.
There is mounting research suggesting that coordination, balance, and stability exercises rewire our brains in ways that traditional strength and aerobic exercises do not. Neuroscientists from Jacobs University in Germany split a group of older adults into two groups: one group walked three times each week, while the other group took part in a variety of stability and condition training, such as exercising with stability balls and stability boards, three times each week. The researchers monitored participants over a one-year period. They found that both groups improved performance in speed, executive control, and cognition.
The stability workouts, however, required “higher-level cognitive processes that seem to increase the number of synapses connecting the neurons,” explains Hutchinson. Stability workouts require us – and our brains – to improve the ability to adapt to new stimuli. As in life, the obstacles that we may encounter are unpredictable. As we improve our coordination, balance, and stability, we prepare our bodies and our minds to take on our day-to-day challenges. Stability exercises, like those performed with Core Flytes, improve proprioception and strengthen neuromuscular connections that help us move better.
We'd love to hear from you. What are your views on the importance of stability exercises for injury prevention? Comment below or on our Facebook page at facebook.com/flytefitness, or tweet us at @flytefitness.
Be Flyte Fit,
Co-Founder & CEO
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