Improving Balance

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Introduction:

Balance is essential for our everyday life, Even if we don’t always realise it, helping us stay safe and upright as we move. While our bodies are good at keeping us balanced, injuries and certain conditions can still affect our balance.

Various systems relay information to the brain :

  • Vision ( Processing sight)
  • Proprioception ( interpreting touch and body part location )
  • Vestibular ( recognising motion, head position and orientation)

This input processed in the brain through Different parts of brain such as cerebellum, cerebral cortex and brainstem.

Integrated information is transformed into motor output directed to

  • Eyes and vestibular system
  • Joints and muscles

 

Factors affecting balance :

  • Ageing
  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Injury ( affecting joint sensors, strength and reaction timing )
  • Some Neurological and cognitive conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Stroke, Dementia.

 

By challenging with right amount, we can improve the balance despite having medical conditions or affected by other factors.

Even if you don’t have injuries or conditions, working on your balance is important for staying healthy, especially as you get older. As you age, your ability to balance gradually decreases, and you become slower at reacting to prevent falls. However, regular balance exercises can help fight this decline and lower the risk of falls and injuries.

As Physiotherapists, when we are helping someone to improve their balance, we normally start by assessing where their weakness/ challenges are. Then we can come up with specific exercises that involve doing “ just enough” to make them a bit uneasy ( but not cause them to fall / hurt themselves ). And as with strengthening, when these exercises become easier, we make them harder.

Below are some easy exercises to improve your balance and feel more confident in your daily activities. When practicing balance, make sure you are in a safe place with clear space around you.

Tandem Stance: Stand with one foot directly in front of the other, like you’re on a tightrope. Try to hold for 30 seconds on each foot.

If it’s too hard:  make your stance wider.

If it’s too easy: try turning your head or closing your eyes.

Single Leg Balance: Stand on one leg with your hands on your hips. Aim for 30 seconds on each foot.

If it’s too hard, lightly hold onto a wall.

If it’s too easy, try throwing a ball while balancing.

Single Leg Balance on a Soft Surface: Stand on one leg on a soft surface like a pillow or foam. Try to balance for 30 seconds on each foot.

If it’s too hard, start on a flat surface.

If it’s too easy, close your eyes.

Single Leg Balance with Eyes Closed: Stand on one leg and close your eyes, aiming for 30 seconds.

If it’s too hard, open your eyes or hold onto something.

If it’s too easy, try balancing on a soft surface.

Arabesques: Stand on one leg with a slightly bent knee. Lean forward from your hips until your body is parallel to the ground, then return upright. Do 8-10 reps on each leg.

If it’s too hard, keep your back toe on the ground.

If it’s too easy, add a small weight.

Conclusion: Remember to practice these exercises regularly to improve your balance and stay confident in your daily activities. Whether you’re dealing with an injury or just want to stay healthy, balancing is something everyone can benefit from.

 

At Physio on Wheels, we bring personalised balance exercises programme to your doorstep. Embrace the convenience of having professional support at your home. Our expert Allied health team members are ready to visit your home, offering tailored exercises sessions to help improve your balance. Book your at-home session with Physio on Wheels today for a safer, more confident and balanced you.

 

References :

  • Susan B O sullivan, Leslie G Portnry. Physical Rehabilitation :Sixth Edition. Philadelphia: FA Davis. 2014
  • Muehlbauer, Thomas; Roth, Ralf; Bopp, Micha; Granacher, Urs.An Exercise Sequence for Progression in Balance Training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 26(2):p 568-574, February 2012. | DOI: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318225f3c4
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Guide to Program Design. Safe Progression for Balance Exercises. Available from:https://www.nsca.com/education/articles/kinetic-select/safe-progression-for-balance-exercises/(accessed 18 September 2020)

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