Approximately 200,000 Australians are hospitalised every year as a result of having a fall. Bone fractures are the most common type of injury resulting from a fall. While falls are most common in those aged over 65, young males aged 5-24 years are also particularly prone to falls.
Regardless of your age, activity levels or health status, helping prevent falls is an important part of what we do here at My FootDr.
Which factors contribute most to falls?
In seniors aged over 65, where falls are the cause of 75% of injury hospitalisations, the biggest contributing factors to falls relating to the feet and legs include:
- Foot pain – conditions elderly Australians experience such as bunions, claw toes, ingrown toenails, arch pain, heel pain and lower limb pain can all contribute to falls as they alter the way you walk, leading to less stability on the feet.
- Muscle weakness – muscles naturally weaken as we age and enter our golden years, so elderly people are more at risk of falling as they lose muscle strength, flexibility and endurance. This can interfere with things like our ability to clear the ground during walking, resulting in the toes hitting the ground and ending in a fall.
- Balance and gait – foot posture, nerve sensation, balance and gait all impact on wellbeing as we age. Low arches or feet that roll inwards or outwards mean leg muscles are working harder to keep the body balanced. As we age, our natural balance and coordination tend to worsen.
- Improper or ill-fitting footwear – backless shoes and slippers, heeled shoes, and shoes with smooth leather soles are examples of unsafe footwear which could contribute to falls. See our range of good shoes for healthy feet here.
With 72% of falls occurring within the home or a residential aged care facility, being proactive when it comes to preventing falls is essential in promoting ongoing mobility, comfort and independence.
How can podiatrists help falls prevention?
Podiatrists play an important role in not only treating the foot conditions that may contribute to a person’s falls risk, but also in providing regular consultation to assess and best manage the ongoing and changing level of risk of falling as we age.
Three key functions a Podiatrist can offer elderly Australians at risk of falls include:
- Biomechanical assessment – identifying the functionality of feet while standing, walking and running. Specifically, where muscle weakness or tightness, foot posture and limb function may contribute to the falls risk.
- Custom-made foot orthotics – prescribing uniquely designed shoe inserts to best support your feet in their ideal position. This can improve your comfort and stability while reducing your falls risk.
- Footwear – ensure you are wearing safe footwear which properly fit and support your feet, as opposed to shoes that increase your falls risk.
Our goal is to help prevent our patients from being a falls statistic. If you’re worried about yourself or a loved one, book an appointment with your local My FootDr podiatrist by calling 1800 FOOTDR or book an appointment online.
Go to our advice page for more information on falls prevention.