Strides for Seniors

STRIDES for Seniors: Mastering the Fall

STRIDES is a 10-week, twice a week class for anyone who worries about falling and becoming injured. There are no age or other restrictions, but participants may want to check with a physician before signing up.

In the classes, most of the time is spent in chairs, where we move to music and remaster such patterns as spinal sequencing, shifting weight and level changing.

We do not actually work on falling until the last two weeks.


STRIDES is a program developed by Karen Bradley, Certified Movement Analyst and dance educator. The underlying principles come from a somatics practice called Bartenieff Fundamentals™ and the system of movement analysis called Laban Movement Analysis. Bradley is also trained as a dance/movement therapist and has worked with seniors in hospital. She developed the exercises to music; they are designed to be fun and a reminder of how the body takes care of itself when we keep on keeping on!

About Falling While Aging

When we were babies, we had lots of fat pads on, and plenty of fluid in our joints. As we became more mobile, we lost the fat pads, but the fluid stuck around for a long time.  It was there when we ran around the bases, jumped rope, danced, carried the kids around piggyback, skated, skied, hiked, etc.  Eventually, however, the effects of overuse and gravity appear, and we lose fluid in the joints. If you experienced an injury, especially one that became chronic (long-term), you probably noticed that the body part had less fluid and had stickier, perhaps painful and more limited movement. As you moved that part less and less, mobility also decreased. Immobility is highly contagious. What begins as scar tissue in an injury site, or just the limitations of movement that naturally appear as we lose fluid in the joints,  can cause us to sit around, feeling old and sorry for ourselves. And then the adjacent parts become engaged in the pity party. And before you know it, the idea of standing up and moving across the room seems momentous.

And then the idea that we cannot take care of ourselves begins to take hold. It is terrifying.

If the above describes your inner thoughts and experiences, do not think for one minute that you are crazy! It is true that falls are very scary for those of us who are aging (and aren’t we all?).  A fall that breaks bones can lead to all kinds of horrible things, including infection and hospitalization.

We cannot replace fluids in the joints, nor can we eliminate scar tissue, but we can relearn how to move in ways that prevent or diminish the negative effects of falling.  And that is what STRIDES helps us to do: ride the fall and enjoy it!

Underlying Concepts

Breathing: Inspiration and Expression

Addressing Tension: shoulders and neck/jaw etc. rotation

Growing and Shrinking

Successive and Simultaneous Flow

Pelvic Floor and Core Support, flexion/extension/rotation

Weight Shift

Organization: Body-Half, Contralateral

Level Change

Relating to Things Out There

Space: Orientation

Space: Support