Have you noticed your balance isn’t quite what it used to be?
Here is a quick way to assess your balance at home. Making sure you have a bench or stable surface next to you, try standing on one leg with your knee slightly bent – no holding on! How wobbly were you? If that was too easy, try repeating the exercise with closed eyes. If you had any difficulty with either of these tests, then it’s likely your balance isn’t as good as it should be.
Poor balance can lead to impaired mobility, falls and sporting injuries. Falls are a particularly serious consequence or reduced balance, especially in the elderly.
The ability to balance is comprised of three major components – proprioception, the vestibular system and vision.
Proprioception is a system by where nerves from the joints, ligaments and muscles send a message to the brain to tell us where our body is in space. For example, the nerves travelling from the joints, ligaments and muscles surrounding the ankle let you know what position your ankle is in, without having to look at it! Proprioception is important to prevent falls and injuries in everyday life, as well as to optimise sporting performance and avoid injury. Just like we lose muscle strength if we don’t use them, our proprioception weakens if it is not exercised and challenged on a regular basis.
The vestibular system is composed of a minute apparatus that sits in the middle ear on both the left and right side of the head. It works by sending messages to our brain to tell us where our head is in space. When your vestibular system is not functioning at an optimal level, it may cause you to feel off balance and dizzy. As with proprioception, the vestibular system becomes less functional if it is not exercised and challenged on a regular basis.
There are other factors which may also contribute to poor balance. Reduced muscle strength, delayed reaction time and joint pain and stiffness may also play a part in poor balance.
If you feel your balance is declining, or could simply just be better than it currently is, it would be well worth your time having it looked into. Call 07 35116352 or book online.
Reduced proprioception, a sub-optimally functioning vestibular system, and other factors which may lead to reduced balance, can all be assessed and treated by a physiotherapist. Through a thorough assessment of your balance and provision of an individualised exercise program, you will be avoiding falls, improving daily mobility, optimising sporting performance and injuries.