I wrote an article a while back about balance. How we lose it as we get older. Because of the loss of muscle tissue we pretty much spend our adult life as if we were living inside of a pinball machine. We bang into the furniture, we bump into doors, we trip going up the stairs. And then we fall down.
New research has come up with some pretty interesting facts. It seems that we don’t trip or fall down any more as older adults than we did in our youth. We fall just as many times as youngsters as we do as adults. It’s just that we catch ourselves faster in our youth. And why do you suppose that is? Hint: go back to the first paragraph for the answer. Do you have it yet?
One answer is loss of muscle tissue. When we’re young we have lots of new, fast and strong muscle. So when we fall, we catch ourselves to prevent the fall. And if we do fall we pretty much don’t get hurt because of strong muscle tissue.
We also have lightening fast proprioceptors. These are nerve endings that provide information from your brain and back to the muscles by way of that internal superhighway called the central nervous system. And they are lightening fast. Here’s an example. When we’re young and we trip the proprioceptors in your feet send an immediate signal that something’s gone wrong. Your brain then sends another signal to your legs to let them know that the feet have a minor problem and they need help. So the legs send a message to the brain that they will indeed come to the rescue and help out by contracting and moving a little faster to stabilize the upper part of the body so it doesn’t tip over. The brain then sends a thank you to the legs by telling the adrenal glands to send some Cortisol to the muscle in the legs for extra strength. The legs react, you don’t tip over and all is well. And all of that communication took approximately six tenths of a second.
But now that we’re in our sixties and seventies, that communication has slowed way down. And the muscle has pretty much left. So when the brain sends a message to the legs, the legs say, “What?” and we all fall down.
The good news? Strength training reverses that poor communication. Strength training will build muscle and that in turn will make your proprioceptors more responsive. Here at Lanza Fitness Personal Training we can show you how to do it safely and effectively. And it does work. I’ve seen it here in my studio. I work with the older adult community and they’re no longer living in a pinball machine. Unfortunately I can’t do anything about the “ding ding ding” but that’s for another time.
As always, if you’d like more information or you would like to speak with us come on in to California Fitness Center or you can call 818-822-6127 and we’d be more than happy to give you our time.
Thanks for listening and have a healthy day!