Don’t Let Fear of Falling Keep You Inside
By: Allison Maffei, DPT (Photo by Monika Kubala on Unsplash)
As the sun starts shining and flowers blooming, the itch to get outside is overwhelming for most. However, a fear of falling can keep many playing it safe indoors. 1 out of 5 falls in older adults causes an injury serious enough to warrant a hospital visit. A bad fall can cost someone their independence, so It’s a valid thing to be afraid of. However, the worst thing one can do when afraid of falling, is to stop moving. Inactivity leads to more of the problems that cause falls, such as weakness and stiffness. Remind you, Nevada County is one of the most beautiful places in the world, so let me offer you a few safety tips, so you can get out and enjoy what the county has to offer.
Take a Buddy
While many enjoy the solitude of a quiet nature walk, it’s best to walk with someone else. Always bring a cell phone as backup safety. If you really want to walk alone, or can’t find a compatible walking partner, pick a trail that is well traveled so you are likely to see others if you need help.
A good quality set of adjustable trekking poles make a huge difference when you feel less steady. Essentially turning you from a two-legged animal into a four-legged animal, trekking poles increase your base of support and ensure you don’t have to balance on one foot while taking a big step.
They also help improve your posture and can reduce back pain, allowing you to walk longer.
To use trekking poles, set the height so that you are comfortable holding the pole in your hand with your elbow bent at 90 degrees. You may need to make the poles longer when going downhill and shorter for uphill, so get a pair that is easy to adjust.
Don’t forget to put your hand through the wrist straps. This helps distribute your weight onto the poles, with the added benefit that you won’t drop them.
Take off the rubber tips when on the trail, or leave them on if you decide to use the trekking poles around town or indoors.
Walk with a “natural arm swing” by moving the right pole as you step with your left foot and vice versa. Once you practice for a couple minutes, this will come naturally to you.
Make sure to wear supportive and safe footwear. If you really can’t stand shoes in the summer, get a sandal that has arch support and ankle straps. Better yet, wear a closed-toed sneaker with good tread on the sole. Even when it’s hot out, don’t wear flip-flops or flat shoes that are likely to make you slip or hurt your feet.
It’s hot in the summer, protect yourself from the heat and sun with a big hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and plenty of water. If you’ll have trekking poles in your hands consider a hands-free device like a Camelback, or just bring a backpack and take frequent water breaks.
Pick Your Trail carefully
When it comes to accessing the outdoors, there are many resources for finding trails for every skill level. You can use a website such as AllTrails which codes trails easy, moderate, and hard. You can even request wheelchair accessible trails which will be wide and flat with a mild grade. Here are some great options:
Hirschmann Trail: This trail is mostly flat with a decent amount of shade. Starting from Cement Hill Road, it meanders past Hirschmann pond at the quarter mile mark and continues along 49 for 2 miles. This is an out and back trail, so pay attention to your energy level, and turn around in time. Luckily, there are multiple benches along the way, if you need to rest.
Buttermilk Trail: This trail begins at the north end of the parking lot at South Yuba State Park. With beautiful views of the river throughout, this wheelchair accessible trail gives you a long for bang for the buck! It is also an out and back trail with benches for resting sprinkled throughout.
Sugarloaf Mountain: Now this trail has more of an elevation gain, 160 feet over 1.1 miles, but you are rewarded with beautiful views of Nevada City and conveniently placed benches to rest.
Please check our below for some suggestions and tools that will make you feel more safe to explore our beautiful county.