We don’t tend to think about gravity much when we’re young.
After all, if you do happen to take a tumble as a kid, you bounce right back up. And as a younger adult staying on your feet isn’t much of an issue.
But suddenly, when you reach your senior years, falling becomes a very real risk.
A scrape or a bruise is the typical outcome when you’re younger. And any broken bones tend to heal quickly. But losing your balance when your older could have severe and even deadly consequences.
In fact, one in four Americans 65 and older has a fall every year. And every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.
So it’s no surprise that over 36 percent of seniors say they fear falling. They’ve got good reason to. You never know when a fall might strike, so it can be a constant source of low-level anxiety that makes you stop living your life to your fullest.
But new research just revealed what could turn out to be a surprising “crystal ball” of sorts when it comes to predicting falls.
This simple “test” could give you a heads up long before you fall so you can take steps to help prevent it. And just as importantly, it could help ease your mind a bit if your risk is low.
Squeezing THIS could help predict your fall risk
When you think about falls, you probably think about the strength in your lower limbs, right? After all, weakening leg muscles can make you less steady on your feet, setting you UP for falling DOWN.
The trouble is your regular doc just isn’t set up to properly test lower limb strength. So it’s not something that typically gets checked. And that means your risk could be rising, but you have no way to know.
That is until now. Because new research has revealed, GRIP STRENGTH can be a surprisingly accurate stand-in for predicting fall risk. And that is a measure most doctor’s offices CAN take.
The study, conducted at the University of Brasilia, followed 204 female volunteers with an average age of 68. Each participant had her hand strength measured using a Jamar hand grip dynamometer. And then the same measurement was retaken 18 months later.
After adjusting for body weight, the researchers were able to use the grip strength to figure out if folks were suffering from muscle weakness. Between the two measurements, they could clearly see if a volunteer was gaining or losing strength.
But even more exciting was that those figures also revealed a way to gauge if folks were at a higher risk for falls.
Between the initial grip measurements and the follow-up ones, 27 percent of the women in the study fell at least once. When the researchers crunched the numbers, they found the ladies who had poor handgrip strength were 2.73 times more likely to have taken a tumble during the follow-up period. And if the women had impaired balance of any sort that fall risk shot right through the roof.
In other words, measuring your handgrip strength could be like having a secret window into your future. So at your next doctor’s visit, ask about doing a handgrip test during your appointments from now on.
It’s an easy way for him to see whether your strength is increasing or decreasing over time. And he can spot if you are at high risk for a fall BEFORE disaster strikes. If your handgrip is weak, he can help you with a plan to increase your muscle strength from specific exercises to physical therapy if needed.
Tracking your grip at home
Tracking your own grip strength at home over time could help you spot some health issues early as well. Plus, it’s a great way to track your progress when you start strength training, such as using resistance bands.
Professional dynamometers are pricey, costing nearly $300 or more. But digital home versions are far more affordable, usually costing less than $35. You can find them online or in some department stores such as Walmart. A brand we like is Camry.
Or if you have an old analog scale in your bathroom, you could use it instead.
- Hold the scale with the front facing you and squeeze with your dominant hand as hard as you can for 10 to 15 seconds.
- Repeat three times with a 30 second rest period between each squeeze.
- Write down the highest number you reached and keep track of it over time.
The important thing here is CONSISTENCY. Try to hold the scale the same way and squeeze the faceplate in the same spot each time. If you’re more of a visual learner like me check YouTube for some examples
You can covert the pounds to kilograms online using a search engine if you want to compare it to other folks in your age group.
A normal range for men ages…
- 60 to 64 is 30 to 48 kilograms
- 65 to 69 is 22 to 44 kilograms
- 70 and older is 21 to 35 kilograms
And a normal range for women ages…
- 60 to 64 is 17 to 31 kilograms
- 65 to 69 is 15.4 to 27 kilograms
- 70 and older is 14.7 to 24.5 kilograms
Declining muscle mass can steal your strength and set you up for a dangerous or even deadly fall. Don’t let it. Fight back with some simple strength-training exercises starting today.