08/09/2023 | Press releases

Can you stand on one leg like a flamingo?

It sounds easy to stand on one leg – but not while you’re in a pool and you’ve broken the tibia and fibular bone in your left leg.

That’s what happened to Shane last year, who is now having physiotherapy but trying to do the #FlamingoChallenge of standing on one leg for a minute.

Shane, 36, broke his leg in a tobogganing accident in September last year when his left leg became trapped under the vehicle.

He’s had two operations and treatment including physiotherapy to help repair his injured leg. Part of his treatment has been hydrotherapy in the pool at Ipswich Hospital.

Man in swimming pool holding inflatable flamingo

The dad, who has twin boys aged six and a son aged seven, was eager to try the challenge to see if he could manage the one minute he should aim for in his age category.

The fibre optic engineer from Ipswich said: “Breaking two bones in my leg has had a huge impact on my life – I had to stop work and have been trying to do everything I can to help myself. Standing on my good leg was easy but much harder on my left leg. I want to keep trying to build up my muscles – so I’m keen to continue the challenge!”

Being able to stand on one leg can be a general sign of your health and fitness, and if you aren’t able to do the full time – you can keep practising to build up.

You should be able to stand on one leg for:

  • 1 minute or more if you’re aged 18 – 49
  • 40 seconds if you’re aged 50 – 59
  • 35 seconds if you’re aged 60 – 69
  • 20 seconds if you’re aged 70 – 79
  • 5 seconds if you’re aged 80+

Members of the Musculoskeletal (MSK) Physiotherapy team are encouraging patients – and colleagues – to try it today as part of World Physiotherapy Day. #WorldPTDay

Woman smiling at camera in white clinical tunic

Clinical specialist physiotherapist Sue Voules said: “Balance is really important and can reduce your risk of having a fall.

“Being able to find out your flamingo age, and improve it, can also help to build strength in your muscles. If you have arthritis that creates joint swelling and then in turn this reduces muscle strength, so being able to improve this is really beneficial.

“It’s similar if you have a lower limb injury – it affects your balance and then creates a higher risk of you injuring yourself again.”

Sue said if trying it to stand on a flat stable surface so you can put your hands down if you need to.

More information about the challenge, which was launched by NHS Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board, as well as suggestions for exercise can be found on their website: suffolkandnortheastessex.icb.nhs.uk/flamingo

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