There is a morbid scenario that exists for those in the 60+ demographic and it goes something like this:
Fall and break hip
Go to hospital to get hip fixed
Catch pneumonia while in hospital
Go to nursing home to recover
Never recover and pass away
All from one simple little slip and fall. What do slipping and falling have to do with jumping and landing? A lot, really, and the primary similarity lies in the speed with which they occur and that is:
In the blink of an eye, a snap of the finger, bam! It has happened. Grandma (or Grandpa) has gone from standing upright to lying on the ground in agony.
There is good news, though. There is a simple and very applicable training protocol that can be modified to help those who need to be prepared for this type of "fast" activity.
Plyometrics is the training protocol that helps athletes to jump higher and run faster. It is a very advanced protocol developed in the former Soviet Union and distributed in the U.S. by an excellent coach, Don Chu.
While jumping up and down might not be in the cards initially, if ever, for grandma/pa, here are some quick and simple tips using a modified plyometrics protocol to help him/her become more "fall-proof".
Fall-Proof Plyometrics Protocol
1. Start With Step-ups First - This is especially important for those who are quite unaccustomed to any exercise. Simple step-ups are more than adequate as a place to start.
2. Start Small - A 1-2 inch change in elevation is plenty initially. Eventually the individual will work to a 4 inch, 6 inch, then 12 inch elevation change.
3. Plyometrics works in three directions:
a. Up (the easiest)
c. Lateral - left and right (the hardest)
The first progression set in the Fall-Proof Plyometrics Protocol would look like this:
1. Step-ups with 1-2 inch elevation
2. Step-downs with 1-2 inch elevation
3. Lateral Step-ups (both left and right) with 1-2 inch elevation
Practice step-ups UNTIL MASTERY before moving on to step-downs.
Practice step-downs UNTIL MASTERY and then move to lateral step-ups.
Once the lateral step-ups HAVE BEEN MASTERED, start a new progression set.
Use a higher elevation change and begin again with step-ups.
Repeat this process until lateral step-ups with a 12 inch elevation change have been mastered. Depending on the individual, this may take as long as six months to accomplish.
Once an individual has mastered all types of steps with a 12 inch change in elevation, he/she is probably ready to go back to the 1-2 inch elevation change and begin practicing jump-ups.
However, having said that, it may be that a large portion of the older population would be better served by simply performing a variety of step-ups. Moving into jumping is completely an individual decision.
My number one goal in this article was to let people know that there are simple training paradigms available to help those of a more mature demographic avoid suffering the same fate as many thousands of their peers as a result of a fall.
It's really irrelevant if these people actually get to the jumping version of a fall-prevention training program because even a stepping version will make them more resilient to serious injury if/when they do fall. The point is they have a choice and they can take action.
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