Bad Bones? On Your Feet

Reducing the risk of falls is critical if you have osteoporosis. Find out how to protect your bones and stay on your feet.

Senior Couple doing sport outdoors, jogging on a forest road in the autumn

Medically reviewed in March 2021

The risk of falls goes up pretty dramatically when you have weak bones and muscles. That's bad news, because a fall can easily lead to a bad break. And few things put a greater damper on your mobility and longevity than a broken hip, neck or ankle bone. So you need to work hard to protect your bones and guard against fractures. And that means improving your balance and reducing your risk of a serious spill.

Bone up your activity
One of the best ways to lower your risk of falls and fractures is to stay physically active. A physical activity program that includes stamina-building, weight-bearing, strength-training, and balance and flexibility exercises works best to reduce the risk of falls and bone breaks. If you have osteoporosis, check with your doctor first before beginning any exercise program. He or she will want to design a physical activity program that's gentle on bones. 

Move safely
When you have osteoporosis, moving in certain ways may be unsafe and increase your risk of falls. Every individual's case is unique, but, in general, having good posture and moving your body properly can help prevent falls and broken bones. When walking, keep your feet and knees pointed straight ahead, keep your head high and shoulders back, and wear shoes with nonslip soles. Pay special attention to uneven pavement and curb heights. And stay on top of your eye appointments so your vision correction is up to date. Seeing obstacles is the first step in avoiding them.

When you can, take advantage of assistive devices, such as handrails on stairs. And ask your doctor if he or she thinks a cane or walker would promote better balance.

Here are some easy little things you can do to your home to make it safer and reduce the risk of falls.

Check in with your doctor
A conversation with your doctor might help reveal other risk factors for falling. Low blood pressure, heart problems, cognitive impairment and vision trouble all increase the risk of falls, so it's best to have them diagnosed and treated.

Certain medications, such as antiseizure drugs, narcotic painkillers and antipsychotic medications, may up the risk of falls, too. Your doctor may need to adjust your medication plan to help keep you safe.

Control is in your hands
Living with the fear of falling can be unsettling. But you'll feel better and more empowered if you take active steps to reduce the risk of falls. If your balance or gait is quite off, your doctor may even recommend physical therapy or balance training. So be sure to work closely with your doctor to take advantage of all the tools available for making your body stronger and your environment safer. Follow this guidance to communicate more effectively with your doctor.

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