One of the important things in preventing falls is the importance of posture and alignment. It all begins with your feet!
The feet provide a base of support for the body and having a good solid base goes a long way to helping us maintain a good alignment. There are three main points that you should be able to sense when you are standing. Imagine triangle with the heel being the point and the big toe and little toe being the other two points.
When you stand, feel that you are balanced with all three points. Practice standing and coming up on the ball of the foot to help improve balance.
Next up the ladder is the ankle. The ankle should be flexible to help with walking.
Keep your ankles limber by slowly pointing and flexing the foot any time you are sitting. Pointing stretches the ligaments on the top of the foot and flexing stretches the Achilles tendon.
This up and down motion is important for daily activities of living and helps prevent shuffling – a risk factor for falls.
Finally, add circle your feet clockwise and then counter clockwise when you are sitting to keep the entire ankle flexible in all directions.
With a solid foot and flexible ankle, the next point of focus is the knee. The knee should be strong and stable. Maintain good muscle strength in the legs to help support the knee joint. Try riding a stationary bike or walking up stairs and be sure to stretch the muscles of the legs before working out or playing sports. The knees will also benefit from wearing proper shoes and maintaining a healthy weight.
If you have knee pain, range of motion exercises and leg strengthening exercises can help. Check with a physical therapist or doctor to help you with these exercises.
Lastly, maintain flexibility in your hips to help with balance and motion. Check with your doctor or a physical therapist to help evaluate your hip flexibility.
Feeding Your Bones
Your bones are constantly changing due to a process called remodeling. To build strong, healthy bones when you are young — and to keep them strong and healthy as you get older — you need to feed them well. This is especially true when you’re training for rigorous physical activity! The additional physical activity stimulates remodeling, and your bones need proper nutrition to support that process.
Let’s talk about the role of nutrients in bone health and what you can do to make sure you’re giving your bones the nutrients they need to help you perform your best.
Vitamins and minerals: Many nutrients play a role in bone health. Calcium, vitamin D and magnesium are the key bone health nutrients that require special attention to ensure you meet your daily requirement.
Although many foods contain calcium, dairy products provide the most calcium per serving size. Calcium that has been added (fortified) to drinks may settle to the bottom, so shake the container well before drinking. Daily requirements for calcium change with age. People who do not eat dairy foods will need to work hard to meet the recommended daily allowance or may need calcium supplements.
The easiest way to get vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight 20 minutes— but most don’t health care professionals don’t recommend trying that route because of the risk of skin cancer. Find foods with vitamin D, and talk to your doctor about adding a supplement if needed.
Magnesium is found in many foods such as green vegetables, seeds and nuts, legumes, whole grains and avocados. People who consume even moderate amounts of alcohol (moderate drinking is defined as one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men) or use proton pump inhibitors may have increased loss of magnesium in the urine and may benefit from a supplement (approximately 200–250 mg/day).
Protein: We often hear about “carbo loading” when it comes to distance sports; however, getting enough protein is critical for recovery from training. Protein eaten in small amounts (20–30 g) throughout the day (every 3-5 hours) stimulates muscle growth and repair.
A 3-ounce piece of meat (about the size of a deck of playing cards) has about 21 grams of protein.
The USDA recommends 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight, but current recommendations suggest that protein needs depend on our age, body weight and our activity level. Athletes are likely to require more protein to support daily training needs; however, precise recommendations have not yet been defined. Current recommendations suggest that athletes regularly training should consume about 0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight in small doses throughout the day. So think about string cheese as a snack.
Protein in lean meats and other animal products, like eggs, milk, whey, and casein (proteins found in milk), is of a much higher quality than proteins from plants. Although plants have many health benefits, animal products contain all essential amino acids and thus are considered complete proteins. Four ounces of chicken breast, for example, has about 32 grams of protein. Vegetable options alone do not provide high-quality proteins. For example, a half-cup of black beans has about eight grams of protein. However, pairing the half-cup of black beans with brown rice or a whole wheat pita provides about 11 g of complete protein.
Recovery from exercise benefits from refueling within 30 to 120 minutes after rigorous activity. The current recommended amount of post-exercise protein is between 20 and 30 grams
Remember it’s better to get nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D from food instead of supplements. However, for those people who don’t normally get enough from their food, a supplement might be appropriate.
It’s important to talk to your doctor about taking supplements and to take them only as directed. Taking too much calcium from supplements can cause problems.
Read more about other vitamins and minerals that are important for bone health. Again, a healthy person eating a balanced diet typically will get most of what they need from food. Pay attention to nutritional labels to make the best choices for a healthy diet.
American College of Sports Medicine Joint Position Statement. Nutrition and Athletic Performance.” Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2016 Mar;48(3):543-68.
Committee to Review Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D and Calcium, Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2010.
Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2010.
American Bone Health https://americanbonehealth.org/