How Can You Improve Your Balance?

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Posted Nov 3rd, 2017

How Can You Improve Your Balance? How is it that we enter the world as infants we are continually learning to increase our balance and get ourselves up on our feet, but as we age our balance seems to disappear?  We have all taken a tumble at some point in our lives, but this risk increases with age.

Before we get into why we lose our balance with age, what is balance?
  • Balance is the ability to keep your body (center of mass) over your base of support.

How do we keep our balance?  
  • Our brain’s integration of sensory information, about our body and environment, comes from 3 main systems:
    • Vision (eyes)
    • Vestibular (inner ear & semi-circular canals)
    • Somatosensory/Proprioception – ‘position sense’ (joint information). 
 So how do we lose our balance?
  • Age related disruptions to the 3 systems above.
  • Eyesight gets worse; depth perception altered.
  • Vertigo and inner ear infection.
  • Joint degeneration/osteoarthritis.
  • Decreased activity and physical demands on our body.
  • ‘If you don’t use it, you lose it’.  
  • Using arm rests on chairs to rise to standing from sitting.Practice makes perfect … train your brain & body!
It is never too late to ‘get it back’ or improve your balance.
  • Challenge yourself so that ‘regular daily life’ seems easy to your brain and body, compared to your ‘training’/’exercise program’.
  • Don’t use the armrests on chairs to rise to standing.
  • Stand with your feet closer together (narrow your base of support) – in the kitchen, in the bathroom washing hands or brusing teeth, at the grocery line, in the elevator, etc.  Any time, any where as long as you are SAFE!
  • Stand feet side by side.
  • Stand one foot staggered in front of the other (tandem stance).
  • Stand on 1 foot, eyes open.
  • Improve to stand on 1 foot, eyes closed.
  • Do balance exercises throughout your day … standing posture progressions (also see image below for foot placements).
  • Use balance devices for added challenge – rocker board, balance disc, BOSU ball, exercise ball, etc.
Small bouts of daily frequent challenges are more important than 1 large bout a few times a week.
                                

Ready to improve your mobility and get active?

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