Maintaining balance while performing simple daily tasks has been identified as a key factor in prevention of fall in older adults. Research studies have shown that muscle power and velocity of movements have a direct link to the ability to perform functional tasks.
It is common sense to infer that lower muscle power with declining age leads to lower balancing ability, thereby increasing the probability of fall. Postural stability (i.e., a stable body) requires fast response to destabilizing stimuli. However, the body’s ability to generate fast responses rapidly reduces with age. And hence, it is vital to know what can be done to stall or correct this appropriately. Could high velocity training play an equally important role in improving balance? This article elaborates upon an exhaustive research done in this area, and it is interesting to see the results of this research –
The study by Rhonda Orr et al. 2006, explored the effect of high velocity training at different intensities on improving postural balance in the elderly. 112 adults, mean age of 69 years were divided randomly into three groups and given 12 weeks of power training. The training frequency was twice a week of three sets each of five exercises.
The test basically measured their ability to maintain balance on horizontally and angularly moving surfaces. Also measured was their ability to maintain single preferred leg stance with eyes open and closed.
This was followed by elders being split into several groups all of which did strength training for several weeks consisting of both upper body and lower body exercises. All groups underwent high velocity training at different loads calculated as percentages of their individual strengths.
After the twelve weeks training program ended, they were again tested on pre-training parameters.
The comparison of pre-and post-training test results showed that all groups had improved their scores, with the maximum improvement in scores shown by the group which worked with lighter loads and faster lifting speeds. What the research proved beyond doubt was that resistance training improves a senior’s postural balance and the improvement was more pronounced when the training protocol used lighter loads with consequently faster lifting speeds.
Power Training has numerous practical applications and the direct ability to influence the amount of independence one enjoys in his/her life, as it’s the power component which is called upon more often in dealing with the demands of the external world. The ability to retain mobility and movement even at an advanced age is one such demand. This becomes an important factor for older adults as lack of power can cause serious injuries from falling. Concerns about such injuries in elders are well justified as they may take a long time to heal and even longer to rehabilitate.
Consquently, power training becomes an extremely important tool in achieving balance and stability, and hence should be made an intrinsic part of training protocols of older adults.
Article Credits – Arunava Chatterjee