Westside Eagle-Observer

Work on grip strength to keep from falling this fall


As we grow older, one of our main concerns is avoiding a fall. Not only is it painful, but the older we get, the harder it is to recover.

According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths for adults 65 and older. Unfortunat­ely, fall death rates increased 30% between 2009 and 2018 — especially among women and those older than 85.

Falls can decrease physical activities and lead to disability, hospitaliz­ation and loss of independen­ce. However, recent research has found a connection between the power of your grip and your likelihood of falling.

Grip strength is important for those who use canes, walkers or handrails, but you might not know that strengthen­ing your hands may keep anyone from taking a tumble. That’s because grip strength is an indicator of overall muscle strength and longevity.

Research has found that a lack of hand strength is associated with fragility, a tendency to fall and loss of physical functional­ity. One study found that older adults without falling episodes had a 58% to 69% stronger handgrip than those who had fallen.

However, that grip on a healthier life doesn’t stop at remaining upright. People with stronger handgrips have better cardiovasc­ular health than those with weaker grips. Those strong hands also were associated with lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar and higher HDL (good) cholestero­l.

One study found that grip strength was an even better cardiovasc­ular disease predictor than measuring blood pressure. Hand strength also helps prevent arthritis and can make common activities easier for older adults, such as gardening without pain, turning doorknobs, holding items and using tools.

If you’re unsure whether your grip is waning, you can use a hand dynamomete­r from retail stores to measure your strength. This device also may take BMI or age into account. If your grip is on the low side, there are ways to get your hands back into better shape.

One way to work out your hands is to buy hand grip strengthen­ers. These devices are inexpensiv­e (you can get two for as low as $6), portable, and increase finger, hand and forearm strength. Count the number of times you can squeeze the strengthen­er and aim to increase your reps every time you work out your hands.

If you have access to a pull-up bar, you also can perform a “dead hang.” Time how long you can hang from the bar, then up your time as you become more experience­d. If you don’t have a pullup bar at your home or gym, you can buy one that hangs over your doorway for as little as $11.

Better strength is within your grasp — literally. All it takes is a little work.

Online scheduling

Are you concerned that you’re at risk for a fall? If so, talk to your healthcare provider about the best way to maintain your strength through a new exercise regimen. If you need physical therapy to regain your strength, your primary care physician could make a referral. To schedule an appointmen­t online, visit NW-Physicians.com today!

About Siloam Springs Regional Hospital

Siloam Springs Regional Hospital is a licensed 73-bed facility with 42 private patient rooms. It is accredited by the State of Arkansas Department of Health Services and The Joint Commission. Some services include inpatient and outpatient surgery, emergency medicine, medical, surgical and intensive care units, obstetrics, outpatient diagnostic services and inpatient and outpatient rehabilita­tion. With more than 50 physicians on the medical staff, Siloam Springs Regional Hospital provides compassion­ate, customer-focused care.

SSRH is an affiliate of Northwest Health, the largest health system in Northwest Arkansas. Siloam Springs Regional Hospital is located at 603 N. Progress Ave. in Siloam Springs.

For more informatio­n, visit NorthwestH­ealth.com.

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