Most people don’t think much about practicing their balance, but you should! Practicing your balance is just as important as walking to strengthen your heart, lungs and overall health, or stretching to keep your body limber.
As we age, our balance declines if it isn’t practiced and this can result in falls. Every year more than one in three people age 65 years or older fall, and the risk increases with age. A simple fall can cause a serious fracture of the hip, pelvis, spine, arm, hand or ankle, which can lead to hospital stays, disability, loss of independence and even death.
How Balance Works
Balance is the ability to distribute your weight in a way that enables you to hold a steady position or move at will without falling. It’s determined by a complex combination of muscle strength, visual inputs, the inner ear and the work of specialized receptors in the nerves of your joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons that orient you in relation to other objects.
It’s all sorted out in the sensory cortex of your brain, which takes in the information from those sources to give you balance. But aging dulls our balance senses and causes most seniors to gradually become less stable on their feet over time.
Poor balance can also lead to a vicious cycle of inactivity. You feel a little unsteady, so you curtail certain activities. If you’re inactive, you’re not challenging your balance systems or using your muscles. As a result, both balance and strength suffer. Simple acts like strolling through a grocery store or getting up from a chair become trickier. That shakes your confidence, so you become even less active.
If you have a balance problem that is not tied to illness, medication or some other specific cause, simple exercises can help preserve and improve your balance. Some basic exercises you can do anytime include:
Here at Reddy Care Physical & Occupational Therapy, a therapist will help create an individualized balance improvement program to help improve your balance based on underlying disorders.