How Strong Muscles Protect you from Fall Injuries
Friday, May 30, 2014
Thousands of Canadians fall annually in their homes and workplaces. It is important to arrange these spaces in ways that reduce the likelihood of falling. Where this is not permitted or possible, it is useful to have a muscular structure that reduces the probability of falls or the severity of fall injuries.
- Muscles that are not used will get smaller and weaker with a reduced range of motion. Muscles that are exercised frequently will be larger and stronger and allow for a wider range of movement. So how do stronger muscles with a wide range of motion protect you against injuries?
- The first contribution is balance. Strong muscles can bear the weight of your body, and can quickly shift the load from one set of muscles to another if you move suddenly and unexpectedly. For example, if you slip and you are about to go down, the muscles around your back and stomach will contract to hold up your upper body, and different leg muscles will take over the load as you stumble around. The stronger the muscles, the more likely you will find your balance and remain upright.
- Strong muscles can brace harder when a fall is imminent. This minimises the damage that other body tissue sustains when colliding with the floor. Your muscles carry the weight of your body, so it does not fall flat on bones and ligaments. For example, if you fall hard enough to dislocate your shoulder, the muscles around your shoulder will contract hard to keep the shoulder joint in place. If the muscles are strong enough, this will be successful. You will have muscle pain for a few days, but it will pass.
- Back injuries and whiplash are the most common types of fall injuries. The muscles that support your back run on both sides of your spine, in front to your rib cage and stomach, to your sides and hips, and downward to your thighs. If they are sufficiently strong, they will absorb some of the shock of the sudden movement, and will thereby protect your vertebrae, discs and joints.
- Stronger muscles are not unduly stressed when they have to work. This allows damaged muscles and the tissue that they support to heal quicker following a fall.
Muscle development is not intended for bodybuilders only; it can be useful in your life too.