Science in Brief Balance Training

Spinal Alignment, Body Balance, Muscle Strength, Physical Ability and Falling

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The Study: Influence of spinal sagittal alignment, body balance, muscle strength, and physical ability on falling of middle-aged and elderly males

The Facts:

a. The authors looked at the effect that “spinal sagittal alignment, spinal range of motion, body balance, muscle strength, and gait speed influence falling” in elderly and middle aged people.

b. They looked at 100 males

c. The subjects underwent an examination that included standing lateral lumbar radiographs, 10 meter gait speeds, muscular strength, spinal range of motion and fall histories.

d. In addition they noted that in order to really evaluate the sagittal balance, a lateral full spine radiograph which includes the hip joints is needed. They only had the lateral lumbar spine radiograph so they used a device call a SpinalMouse® which is a computer aided device that uses surface measurement to determine spinal range of motion and curvature. (They stopped at the top of first thoracic segment for their evaluation.)

e. Various factors of balance, strength, range of motion and physical ability were compared to those subjects in the group with a history of one or more falls in the past year.

f. The authors concluded good sagittal alignment, muscle strength and physical ability (gait speed) were associated with reduced risk of falling and conversely that poor posture, reduced strength, and other functional pshortcomings were seen more prominently in the “falling” group.

g. “Good spinal sagittal alignment, muscle strength and 10-m gait speed improve body balance and reduce the risk of fall.”

Take Home:

Stronger middle aged and elderly people with better physical ability and spinal sagittal alignment are at a reduced risk of falling.

Reviewer’s Comments:

What this really shows us is something that most of us already knew. Older people who you see hunched over and bending forward and who are weak and can’t walk very quickly are at greater risk for falling. You probably didn’t need a study to tell you that. But this is yet another study that points out the idea that spinal alignment (in this case standing more erect when viewed from the side) is a factor in having a better life.

Reviewer: Roger Coleman DC

Editor’s Comments: This study not only demonstrates the importance of good posture in terms of reducing risk of falling, it also confirms the importance of general physical conditioning as well.

Editor: Mark R. Payne DC

Reference: Imagama S, Ito Z, Wakao N, Seki T, Hirano K, Muramoto A, Sakai Y, Matsuyama Y, Hamajima N, Ishiguro N, Hasegawa Y. Influence of spinal sagittal alignment, body balance, muscle strength, and physical ability on falling of middle-aged and elderly males. Eur Spine J. 2013;22:1346-53. doi: 10.1007/s00586-013-2721-9. Epub 2013 Feb 27

Link to Abstract: .

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