I wrote in a previous post about the public education campaign launched by the Canadian Chiropractic Association which dealt with falls prevention for the elderly. That information can be found here.
It is well documented that injuries sustained from falls can be a huge factor affecting health into our later years. A recent study in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation demonstrates a simple home stretching routine which can help to improve functional levels.
Previous studies have shown that walking speed declines with age, and that this is an indicator of ones risk for falls and decreasing function. This recent study tested out two simple stretches in order to measure their effect on hip flexibility, and in return their effect on walking speed.
The two stretches were a standard calf stretch with one foot flat on the ground, and a hip flexor stretch supported in a shallow lunge position (see pictures). The stretches were done twice per day, 3 times per side and held for 45 seconds. This program went on for a total of 8 weeks.
When measured against a control group, the stretching group showed a faster walking speed and more hip and ankle flexibility.
It is important to note though that this study was done in a population of healthy adults with an average age of 72. We can’t extend these findings to those adults with health or joint problems. However, it does show some promise for chiropractors and other clinicians to begin to implement a simple home program with their aging patients.