Balance of your body is the even distribution of weight bearing, enabling you to remain upright and steady. It is something that you often don’t appreciate until it starts to deteriorate.
Balance is also tied up with proprioception which is a broad concept involving both balance and postural control. These are very important things to consider and keep in check particularly with older adults (40 and over!) and if you have had an injury to a weightbearing joint such as a knee or ankle.
Balance can be affected by several things including muscle strength, previous injuries, the inner ear, and eyesight. Age adversely affects balance because the weightbearing joints become less sensitive to positions a joint may be in and positional changes. As you age, reflexes can become slower, so when you are unbalanced you are slower at reacting and correcting your position. This can increase your likelihood of falling.
The good news is you can improve your balance.
Strength of the back, hips, legs and abdomen are important but also having good core strength can help improve your balance. Think of balance like a muscle that needs strengthening. Balance can improve – it just needs attention.
Here are a few tips that may help:
- Strengthen your back, buttocks, abdomen and legs with a few daily strengthening exercises targeting those areas specifically.
- Challenge your balance each day with a few simple exercises. A few examples are:
- Stand upright with your feet very close together. Hold this position for 10 seconds and try not to hold on.
- Now try closing your eyes
- Try to balance on one leg for up to 30 seconds. Then try the other leg
- Walking on uneven ground with good supportive shoes
- Stand on one leg and kick the other leg forward, sideways, and backwards 3 times. Repeat with the other leg. Try not to hold on but make sure you are close to a sturdy chair or bench if you need support
Hope this helps, Deb