This past summer, my family and I attended my husband’s family reunion in Ohio. During the reunion, Rich, Bennett and Alaina and I were playing a frisbee game. You may have seen this played before. The goal is to toss a frisbee between two upright stakes that are stuck in the ground just far enough apart to allow a frisbee to fit through. There are two sets of stakes about 30 ft apart and there are plastic cups hanging upside down from the top of each stake. Opposing teams stand by their set of stakes and throw the frisbee toward the other set of stakes (bear with me, I do have a point here). If you get the frisbee through the gap you get two points. If you hit a stake and knock off a cup, you get one point. However, if the opposing team happens to catch the cup before it falls to the ground, they get the point. It is quite fun, and it is cheap and easy to make. Anyway, Rich and I were on one team and the kids on the other. We had the game set up at the edge of a slope of mostly grass with a few imbedded rocks since it is the only shady spot available on a 90 degree, sunny day. At some point, being a typical teenager, Bennett decided it was more interesting to try to hit me with the frisbee rather than aim for the stakes. I’m standing near the edge of the aforementioned slope and as I jump back to avoid being nailed by the frisbee, my feet hit the ground on the slope and kept going. Down I went. The kids are laughing uproariously; Rich, who had only one eye on the game as he is also conversing with a relative, was expressing concern for my wellbeing (there is a reason I married him), and my annoyance with Bennett was tempered by the fact that I landed down the slope, bridging the potentially knee bruising rocks, in plank position and stuck the landing. Let me tell you, I was thankful for all the core work I’ve been doing these last several years.
Within a month of returning, I heard from two of my Forza! clients who also took recent tumbles. Both of them expressed gratitude for their stronger cores and believed they could have been hurt much worse had they not had the body awareness and core strength that comes from all the work we do in class.
There was another article recently in the New York Times, that caught my attention. It was entitled “Staying on Balance, With the Help of Exercises” by John Hanc. As we age, not only do we lose muscle strength, but our balance gets worse as well. Here is an interesting statistic, “Unintentional falls among those 65 and older are responsible for more than 18,000 deaths and nearly 450,000 hospitalizations annually in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Most of these falls are caused by a decline in that complex and multidimensional human skill known as balance.” The article goes on to quote Dr. David Thurman, a CDCP neurologist. He states that much of the research “shows fairly convincingly that strength and balance training can reduce the rate of falls by up to about 50 percent.”
I am not aware of any studies done on how core training reduces the severity of falls when they do occur, but I am confident that a combination of strength training of all muscles, including the core, together with balance training decreases the number and severity of falls. Let’s face it, we all take tumbles once in a while. It’s great to be able to pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off and go on with our lives! See you in class.