As we age, it’s no surprise that things begin to shift in the body. Aches and pains arise more easily, movements feel different, and the body’s agility might not seem as sharp as it used to be.
One big area of change you may experience is in regards to your balance. Balance is something most of us are guilty of taking for granted, especially until a fall is involved.
Why Does Your Balance Go As You Age?
Ever wondered how your body can go from falling over to standing up straight in a matter of seconds?
It all starts with the eyes.
Your vision acts as the body’s primary sense responsible for balance. But you also have two other systems that make up the remainder of your body’s ability to have balance. The vestibular system, inside the inner ear, and the proprioception systems, in the muscles and joints, are key for maintaining balance.
As we age, poor balance results from muscle weakness, poor proprioception, and sometimes vestibular hypofunction. This occurs when the balance system in your inner ear, the peripheral vestibular system, is not working at 100% efficiency. The difference is that the vestibular system can also cause what is known as BPPV, or rapid onset of severe dizziness. If this happens to you often, don’t worry. This is a condition commonly and successfully treated at Physio Physical Therapy.
How to Improve Balance and Coordination at Physio Physical Therapy
If you’re an avid hiker or a sports enthusiast, you know that balance is crucial to avoiding injury. We know you want to maintain your active lifestyle and stay feeling good — that’s where the benefits of physical therapy can help. Here’s how.
Our team of physical therapists are expertly trained in all types of movement. They know the best movement techniques and physical exercises to help you improve vestibular responsiveness, strength, mobility, and posture — all important components of having good balance.
When you work with our physical therapists, they’ll walk you through exercises and techniques to specifically help train the vestibular system. Some examples include head movement exercises, turning in place, and other techniques that treat dizziness.
With one-on-one sessions, our physical therapists will help strengthen your muscles, improve your balance, and help you return to the activities you love.
Balance Training Exercises at Home
When you have a physical therapy appointment at Physio, you’ll have trained professionals by your side every step of the way. But seeing long-term changes in your balance takes repetition, and that means doing work away from your weekly appointments.
Improving your balance can be as simple as just finding the time and space to work on it. And what’s easier or more convenient than right at home in your own living room?
If you want to work on improving your balance, here are five simple exercises to try. For safety purposes, make sure to have something, like your countertop, nearby to hold on to.
Standing on one leg, slowly raise your leg up in front of you. Keep your extended leg as straight as you can and then lower it back to your center. Then lift the same leg out to the side and back down, and then lift your leg behind your body and back down. Repeat the same three exercises with the other leg. Do as many repetitions as you can in a controlled manner.
2. 1-Leg Stand
Stand on one leg as long as you can or for up to 30 seconds. If you need extra assistance, be sure to stand near something supportive that you can hold on to. Alternate legs and try to repeat this exercise three to five times on each leg. You can even do this exercise while you brush your teeth, talk on the phone, or wash dishes if you want it to be a little more challenging.
3. Heel to Toe Stand or Walk
Place one foot in front of the other so that the heel of your front foot touches the toe of your back foot. Stay in this position for as long as you can or for up to 30 seconds. As you become more comfortable with this exercise, try taking a few small steps forward, staying with this heel to toe format. It should resemble walking on a tightrope.
4. Sit to Stand and Stand to Sit
Take a chair in your living room and rise out of it without using your arms for help. If this is difficult at first, grab something to make a firm pad underneath you. From a standing position, slowly lower yourself all the way back down onto your chair. Repeat as many times as you’re able to.
5. Knee Lifts
Walk across your living room slowly alternating knee lifts with each step. Take a second to pause in between steps to make it a little more challenging.
Feel the Difference at Physio Physical Therapy
Ready to see how the benefits of physical therapy can help improve your balance? At Physio Physical Therapy, we’ll work with you to help you maintain the healthy, active lifestyle you want. We look forward to seeing you!