We think that difficulty walking is a natural part of the aging process and we do little to change our course. But there are many ways to make it easier and safer to walk. We can reduce the likelihood of falling directly as well.
Ways you can make walking less effort and also much safer:
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Foot and leg health is of prime importance in improving balance. Always take the best care of your feet. Visit a podiatrist on a regular basis. Receive foot massages monthly and your body will thank you.
Why does walking get so much harder with age?
- We are less active. We sit more. Our leg and core fitness deteriorate.
- The back of the legs, the lower back and the knees tighten. We become less flexible in the foot, ankle and knee joints, forcing us to walk stiffly.
- We lose strength especially in the thighs and core.
- Loss of strength in the core from sitting makes it harder to lift our legs as we walk. It also exacerbates any lower back problems which in turn affect our walking adversely.
- We have problems with our knees from prior injuries and arthritis, making it harder to bend the knees as you walk, again making us walk stiffly.
- Our foot joints stiffen and fix and as a result we are not able to roll through our feet as we walk. Instead, we use our feet as single blocks, placing stress on our joints with each block like step.
- When our lower back has problems it is often painful to lift the legs up.
- Neuropathy can introduce many problems walking. Stepping can become tentative because we are less sure of our balance.
- We become cautious as we feel more nervous about walking, especially after having a fall. We shuffle too much as a result.
The worst thing about all of these conditions is that they cause you to drag your feet as you walk. Sometimes deliberately when walking cautiously. Shuffling the feet is the one single thing that can exacerbate the possibility of having a fall more than any other element. If you are concerned about not falling, learn to pick your feet up when you walk. If that is hard to do, find an article above that addresses your concerns and follow the advice. You will improve.
Building Better Balance has 2 sections of each of the 4 DVD classes devoted to feet and legs. Each DVD uses a different approach. In addition the 2nd DVD of the series (on Legs & Feet) contains an exercise routine for improving leg fitness as well as exercises that teach you how to walk correctly and no longer shuffle your feet. The 4th DVD (on Arthritis) includes a wonderful full routine for arthritis of the knees, appropriate for all but especially for anyone who has knees that hurt.