How do you regain the ability to walk without fear of falling?

Fear of falling is a MAJOR concern for a lot of people.  In the early stages of rehabilitation, the goal is to regain movement control at the hip, knee, and ankle.  This is necessary to ensure that someone can support their body weight. Once you have established good movement control, you are ready to start adding additional challenges to standing and walking.  It is not just enough to be able to support your body weight, It is also necessary to be able to move the “free leg” (leg in the air) in different directions. This is important for things like turning, stepping over obstacles, and walking in small spaces (where you might need to walk with your feet very close together).

All that being said, here is part two in a blog series on what I am calling “advanced walking exercises”.  These exercises are critical in order to regain the ability to walk without fear of falling.

1. Kneeling Clam Shell

A kneeling clam shell is great to help isolate the hip muscles.  More specifically the hip rotators. Again, a necessary skill in order to perform turn steps. For this exercise you are going to start in kneeling (on the involved leg) and rotate the opposite knee out to the side.

image of kneeling clam shell

2. Kneeling to Half Kneeling

Kneeling to half kneeling repetitions will take the previous exercise just one step further. By bringing the leg all the way through, you are further challenging that involved hip. Make sure for this exercise that you “squeeze you bottom” in the involved leg and keep your chest pointing toward the ceiling.

kneeling position 1half kneeling position 2

3. Kneeling with Karate Chop

Once you are able to maintain this half kneeling position without holding on, you can try this diagonal movement with the arms.  This movement will help to start to disassociate the upper body and the lower body (allow upper body and lower body to move independent of each other).  This is an important component of being able to walk with a natural trunk rotation.

image of half kneeling with diagonal arm movement

4. Standing Balance with Medicine Ball (rolling forward and backward)

Rolling a medicine ball forward and backward adds an additional challenge and will really require much more control in the involved leg compared to a simple toe tap. Hold on for safety.

advanced balance exercise with a medicine ball

Once you are able to roll the ball forward and backward, you can add a half moon pattern. This will require you to cross midline.  This requires more hip control.  Crossing midline is also a skill that is sometimes difficult after a stroke or a brain injury.  Therefore, it is good to incorporate this type of activity as much as possible.

advanced balance activity with a medicine ball and half moon pattern

5. Standing Balance with Stacking Cones

Toe taps on these cones will help to work on the accuracy of your foot placement.

advanced walking exercise with stacking cones

Again, place cones on the outside of the involved leg and work on crossing midline.

advanced walking exercise with stacking cones and crossing midline

Video with this complete series:

 

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