Have you ever fallen? Think it can’t happen to you? Falls are not as uncommon as you might think, and for the elderly they can be a deadly hazard. But new research shows that balance and movement exercises combined with music do more to prevent falls. This post is not just for seniors.
One out of every three adults age 65 and older falls each year; and of these, tens of thousands die from injuries sustained from falls. Almost two million seniors visit emergency rooms every year as a result of falling. because of these staggering numbers, experts in fall prevention are continuously looking for ways to help the elderly (and others) stabilize themselves.
There are effective ways of training people of all ages to maintain balance, including proprioceptive exercises like rocker and wobble boards, yoga, and other movements. But now a recent study shows that adding music to these workouts can increase these already powerful practices.
Swiss researchers looked at 134 Swiss adults, mostly women, average age 75.5 years, who were at increased risk of falling. They were assigned to either an intervention group that did a music-based multitask exercise program or a control group that did normal exercises.
The intervention program used an instructor-led one-hour weekly exercise class that featured multitask activities, including movements that were designed to challenge balance and become increasingly difficult over time. These exercises included walking in time to piano music and responding to changes in the music’s rhythm.
People in the intervention program showed a greater improvement in balance and had 24 falls (a rate of 0.7 falls per person per year), compared with 54 falls in the control program (a rate of 1.6 falls per person per year). It increased participants’ walking speed and stride length while performing one task at a time, and increased stride length and decreased stride length variability while performing multiple tasks at the same time. This improvement in gait (manner or style of walking) and balance helped reduce the risk of falls.
Not bad, not bad. I do balance or proprioceptive training with many of the clients at my Los Angeles sports chiropractic office. Not only do these exercises prevent falls, but they improve athletic performance, add grace to the gait, and believe it or not, help reduce low back pain (check out the article here to find out how).
So whether you are a chiropractor, physical therapist, or other movement therapist, try adding music to your training program. If you are just into working out and keeping fit, then do so to the rhythm of your favorite music. Moving rhythmically to the beat will improve your balance by syncing your proprioceptors, muscles and brain. Trust me when I say this is the greatest thing you can do for yourself physically. Balance, in all areas is the name of the game.