Start getting in the habit of doing single leg standing exercises. I can tell you I’m not going to take 5 minutes out of my busy to stand on one leg. But being the multi-tasker that I am, I will do single leg standing exercises when I’m…waiting for the microwave to boil water, waiting for something to cook on the stove, brushing my teeth or standing in an elevator. I’ve been doing it for so long that it’s now a habit and honestly, though I’ve come close, I haven’t fallen to the ground in a long time…knock on wood.
So start out by going to your kitchen and standing by your kitchen counter, since they’re taller than most counter tops. Rest your hand on the counter and lift one leg. Some of you might not feel comfortable going any further than this, but if you do, then continue to work on this over the next several days to weeks, until you can stand on one leg for one minute at a time. Now you’re ready to move away from the counter and graduate to doing this exercise at will. You honestly can’t do this exercise too much, unless you’ve got an injury or arthritis or something that causes you to have pain or weakness when you try it. If that’s you…do it less or not at all if it’s too painful or too difficult. Sorry.
The rest of you can get better and better at it, until you’re easily able to do it when standing in a line or filling your car with gas. Now I’m trying to do it with my eyes closed and believe me, that’s not easy.
Once you’re comfortable with standing a hands-free minute on each leg, the next step would be to make it harder by writing the alphabet with the toes of your non-weight bearing foot. Raise the leg to the side or flex it forward. Do anything to make it harder to do! Once you are good at doing this exercise, you can do it almost anywhere and no one will even know you’re in the middle of preventing injury to yourself! You can do it in an elevator. While you’re standing on a long line. While you’re getting chewed out by your boss. Wouldn’t it feel good at the end of a beat down, to know that you had accomplished something positive for yourself at the same time? Guys, you can do it while you’re going to the bathroom. Now that would be some serious multi-tasking. Girls, don’t try this at home.
People often ask me, “Doc, are there any other exercises?” As if I’m holding back or something. Not really. Any exercise which makes you stronger and more conditioned, and doesn’t hurt you in the process, is always a good thing, but I think the single leg stand is the best and easiest for fall prevention. You get some leg and core strengthening, and some increased weight bearing along with it, so there’s a big bang for your buck.
But there are other things you can do to better ensure that you don’t do a face plant on the street or in your house.