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Can parkour help aging adults fall better?



It's about moving quickly through an environment, jumping, crawling and climbing over obstacles. Parkour, also called "freerunning", is not too weak of the heart. But with a few changes it can only be the thing for older people who risk falling.

The basis of parkour brings balance and knowing how to safely break a fall. "Much of what we're working on is balance," said Austin Gall, who teaches the Parkour class for beginners at the Aerial Warehouse in Culver City, California. "Just being able to balance along a rail without falling off or just simple things like footwork and jumping really low distances."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fallout is the leading cause of death in the United States for adults over 65 years of age. Moreover, a deadly fall can have a huge impact on the quality of life.
"Older adults who fall, sometimes experience an injury," says Kathy Cameron, director of the National Fall Prevention Center. "About 20% of those who fall have an injury such as traumatic brain injury or a hip fracture or other bone."

But it's not just the bodily injuries that make falling so harmful. The simple fear of falling causes some older people to avoid physical activity. And it can ironically lead to greater falling risks.

"Physical activity is one of the most important ways we can prevent falls," Cameron said. "Exercise programs that improve balance and strengthen the muscles will improve our gait so we can go better and have better balance."

In addition to focusing on balance, Gall said that there is a particular feature that can be particularly useful to anyone likely to fall.

"I think the most important thing is to be able to fall into a roll to break your fall," he said.

A parkour role is like a martial arts drying. As the person hits the ground, they roll from one shoulder to the opposite hip. This kind of roll, properly done, minimizes a fall's full force by distributing the effect across the body.

Using an experienced parkour instructor, older adults can learn not only to recover from falls, but to avoid injury. "I'm excited to see how parkour should evolve over the next few years, as it is adapted to older adults," Cameron said.

"I think there are components of what are really important to reduce fall risks."


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