Running and Falling: Why Worry?

Kind of an interesting morning to be making the self-propelled foot tour of the neighborhood in the dark at 5 a.m. And no. I didn’t fall. But I’m thinking — and worrying — about that more and more these days. I know. I should be worrying about health-care reform or whether there will be enough Great Lakes Christmas Ale to get me through the holidays — but sheesh.

Now that I have moved into my Social Security years, the potential for falling and getting injured — or worse — suddenly takes on some real meaning and consequences. Go figure.

Here’s the back story.

It was foggy here in NE Ohio this morning, the temp dipping to the high 30s during the night from about the mid-50s yesterday. So not only couldn’t I see ahead — but at times I couldn’t see the concrete. Oh boy. And over the past 30 years or so my stride has shortened — and ability to lift my legs while running has decreased — to the point where any modest unevenness on the concrete becomes the equivalent of trying to clear the hurdles in the Olympics with, for me at least, predictable results.

I was thinking about that this morning because of a NYT article by Steve Lohr  I read two weeks ago, “Watch The Walk And Prevent A Fall.” Lohr wrote about researchers who are looking at devices — such as sensors in carpets — that would monitor how seniors walk and possibly prevent falls. Why?

Well, falls — and the resulting injuries — are potentially life-ending, particularly for those of us who munch our popcorn these days after getting the Golden Buckeye discount at the movie theaters. Here’s from the article:

Falls are so harmful to the elderly and so costly to society that if falling were a disease, it would be deemed an epidemic.

More than one-third of people ages 65 or older fall each year. About one fall in 10 results in a serious injury, like a hip fracture. Roughly 20 percent of older people who suffer a hip fracture die within a year.

The estimated economic cost of falls ranges widely, up to $75 billion a year in the United States, if fall-related home care and assisted-living costs are added to medical expenses.

I’ve tripped and fallen two or three times in the past year or so while running outside in the dark. That never happened before. So I guess the sensible thing to do would be to wait until Mr. Daylight gets up to stretch — or spend more time chasing the treadmill belt.

Nah. I’ll take my chances. I’ll gladly flash my Golden Buckeye card, but I’m not ready yet to make concessions to age.

And besides. I enjoy running in the early morning, in the dark, surrounded by stars and silence. (By the way, I’m not the only one. Here’s an interesting NYT blog post, “The Roving Runner: Running in the Dark.”

Now, if I could just lift those damn legs a little higher.








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