Let me begin by saying the following advice and demonstrations are not guarantees that you won’t fall and break something, but maybe if you do start to fall you’ll remember what you heard and saw and … things won’t be as bad as they might have been.

An icy path
No safe passage on this icy path

I thought about them as I practically tiptoed across my icy driveway the other morning. I even talked out loud to myself. “If you start to fall backward, bend your knees, Diane. Sideways, tuck in your arm.”

Wish I knew that a few years ago when I took a bad fall and landed hard on my butt. Compression fracture in my back. Or when I was roller skating and tried to break a fall, only I broke my left wrist instead (yes I was wearing wrist guards, and knee and elbow pads and a helmet). I do not want to see any more such accidents in my future.

I got the tips when I visited Maine Strong Balance Center recently to talk with physical therapist Jason Adour about maintaining strength and balance as we age and preventing falls. He and Kathleen Morlock, an intern at the Center, went several steps further and demonstrated how to fall — the right or safer way.

Falling backward

A key to protecting yourself when you fall backward is to bend your knees.

If you fall directly on your buttocks with your legs straight, there are quite a few forces that are carried through the hips, so this is one way to have a hip injury or a hip fracture or a compression fracture in your back. As you land directly on your buttocks, those forces are carried up through the vertebral bodies in your back. You can cut down about 44% of the impact forces just by bending your knees.

Jason Adour/Physical Therapist

Falling sideways

If you fall sideways, it’s your elbow should think about.

It really comes down to pressure. Instead of just hitting with your hand straight and absorbing all of those pressures in the wrist and shoulder, by bending your elbow and rolling with it, you can sort of dissipate those forces.

Jason Adour

As we age, the risk of falling and breaking your wrist or hip, in particular, increases. So does the fear of falling. That’s why it’s important to be as strong as possible and able to keep your balance. In a future blog post, Jason will show us some balance tests and tips.

I try to work on my own strength and balance by working out with Andy, my personal trainer, doing yoga, and walking. What do you do?