Falling Can Be Fatal - Stay Stable with Pilates

pilates & fall prevention Jan 14, 2024
This person is practicing balancing to prevent fatal falls


Early in the new year, my mum messaged her friend Anne of almost 80 years, to wish her all the best for 2024. The message she received back shocked her to the core. Anne's message was short. She was in hospital with a broken femur, awaiting surgery.  While the details are sketchy at this point, what we know is that Anne was walking her very placid and docile dog, when she suffered a fall, resulting in, according to her surgeon, very complicated surgery.

In her younger years, Anne gave birth to 3 children, and her final pregnancy was difficult with several complications, but she has described the pain following her recent surgery as indescribable and the worst pain of her life. Understandably, my Mum and I are so upset that this happened and concerned for what lies ahead for Anne.  At 82, she lives alone since her husbands death 20 years ago and was extremely independent with an active social life.  She believed she had healthy genes as her mother died at 97, so exercise wasn't necessary for her.  My Mum often told her how she was strengthening with Pilates and focusing on balance training but Anne was confident her balance was good and she didn’t need to practice.


Anne, like other patients recovering from hip surgery following a fracture is at risk of developing an infection, pneumonia and has a 20-45% risk of postoperative delirium as it was emergency surgery. Unfortunately for Anne, she has several obstacles to overcome after the hospital stay as it could take her around 6 months to a year to make a full recovery.  Rehabilitation will be challenging for her as she is losing muscle mass rapidly while she is lying in hospital.  So far she has only managed 3 painful steps.  Anne has never exercised so rehabilitation is going to be physically and mentally challenging. It's also common to be tentative and fearful when walking again after a major fall.


Different Types of Falls


Understanding the types of falls can be helpful to be more aware and proactive in your fall prevention strategy. Falls can be categorized into different types based on their causes and circumstances. Here are some common types of falls:

Accidental Falls:

These occur due to unexpected events, such as slipping on a wet surface, tripping over an object, or losing balance suddenly.

Trips and Stumbles:

Trips occur when your foot catches on an object or uneven surface, leading to a loss of balance. Stumbles may involve catching the toe of your shoe or foot on the ground, causing a brief imbalance, so your body doesn’t make contact with the ground.

Postural Instability Falls:

These falls result from a loss of balance due to factors such as muscle weakness, impaired coordination, or poor posture. Postural instability falls may occur while standing, walking, or transitioning between positions and this is where strengthening with Pilates can potentially save your life.

Syncope Falls:

Syncope refers to a temporary loss of consciousness or fainting. Falls associated with syncope can occur suddenly and without warning. Medical conditions, dehydration, or low blood pressure may contribute to syncope falls.

Medication-Related Falls:

Certain medications can affect balance and coordination, increasing the risk of falls. It's essential for individuals to be aware of the side effects of their medications and communicate with their healthcare provider if they experience dizziness or lightheadedness


Preventing Falls with Pilates and Balance Training

All my Pilates clients have excellent balance and balance training is always included in all my 1 on 1 virtual sessions.  There are also numerous balance videos in my on-demand library and I regularly create and add new ones.  If you are consistent, in as little as 5 minutes per day you can markedly improve your balance and help to safe-guard yourself against serious and life threatening injury.  Pilates works by strengthening your core, glutes, legs and feet and helps to sharpen your mind as well. All this combined with specific balance training can help you to stay stable and prevent falls as you age. If only Anne had listened to my Mum's gentle suggestions over the years that she should do Pilates too, there is a large chance she wouldn't be lying in a hospital bed  right now in terrible pain, feeling very unsure of her future. Even if she did fall, with the strength she had built up at Pilates she may have only stumbled and not broken her femur. Unfortunately, the damage is done. If you do suffer a serious fall, for whatever reason, and are trained in Pilates, this base of support will help to make your rehabilitation so much easier and shorten your recovery time.

If you are ready to begin strengthening with Pilates and improving your balance email me at [email protected] .  Alternatively, you can  book your in-depth Initial Assessment with me via Skype. or work independently at your own pace through my library of on-demand videos.  Take the free 10 day trial and start now.  It would be my pleasure to assist you to staying strong and stable as you age!






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