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Take the Dollar Bill Test: Better Balance for Better Bone Health

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Bones & Joints related image Photo: Getty Images

Having good balance, especially as we age, is important to the health and vitality of our bones. Now, I am not a candidate for the senior citizens’ center just yet, but there are days when putting on my socks while standing may look rather comical to someone passing by. Is it just me, or is it sometimes a challenge to put on a pair of socks while standing? After all, that does require some level of balance, right? Without balance, we would topple over and fall to the ground. If our bones are not at their optimum level of health, that could spell fracture and serious injury.

I am sure many of us have had a similar experience: you are walking down some steps and momentarily misjudge the placement of one of them. Your brain quickly goes into overdrive to keep you from falling while you stagger forward, arms flapping about, trying to regain your balance. If you have strong and flexible muscles, paired with a quick reaction time, you can probably avoid the fall. For individuals who are active and fit, their sense of balance is better and they avoid fewer falls. This is especially vital to the quality of our bone health.

Three areas of fitness are important in this regard. For starters, you want to focus on your lower body strength. Try this simple test. If you are sitting in a sturdy chair, like one at your kitchen table, can you raise yourself to a standing position without the use of your hands? If you cannot pass this test, then your risk of falling is up to three times higher than normal. Even if you are frail, strength training is essential to maintaining lower body strength.

How are those ankles of yours, by the way? If they are weak and inflexible, you stand a greater chance of sustaining an injury from a fall. If it is difficult to bend your ankles, it is easier to lose your balance and even harder to catch it again. Not sure if your ankles can pass the test? Stand facing a counter, keeping your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your hands on the counter for balance. Have a friend at your feet with a ruler. Now stand on the balls of your feet.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.