Is it because I am getting older? As we age, our body changes. Our reflexes slow down and our nerve signals are not quite as fast to alert us to make a correction when we lose our balance. Balance is essential to our everyday routine - from getting dressed to taking the dog for a walk, to cooking a meal. Most of the time you don't have to think about balance - but when you do, it can become frustrating. The feeling of being unsteady can lead to inactivity. Individuals tend to withdraw from their favorite activities or decline invitations due to a fear of falling. The less you do the weaker balance will become and risk for falls will increase. What a vicious cycle!
Is there anything you can do to improve your balance? First, we need to get to the root of the problem! What has changed over the past few years? Medical diseases and disorders? Medications? VIsion? Lifestyle? Activity level? Diet? Balance can be attributed to one or multiple of these factors. Talk with your doctor to see what may be causing balance loss and discuss what type of intervention is right for you.
For one to have good balance, three systems need to be sharp to keep you on your feet...
Your body's ability to feel where it is in space. When you stop moving you should feel still and know if you are upright or upside down. If you are still but have a sensation that you are still moving or spinning, your vestibular system may be impaired. Special tests can be done by a professional to see if the inner ear is truly affected. If so, a maneuver can be performed to reduce or eliminate the spinning sensation.
Have you had your vision checked lately? It is important that you are wearing the correct prescription so you can see where you going and avoid tripping hazards! Optimal vision gives your brain input as to what is ahead and how far away an obstacle is, such as stairs, a curb or uneven sidewalk.
Sensory and Muscle Strength:
Your body's balance depends on input from what your joints and muscles feel so that adjustments can be made accordingly. With balance loss, instant corrections are necessary to keep you from falling. Strong muscles will assist with these corrections to keep you upright. Good muscle strength is also important to keep you steady with everyday movements, such as standing up and walking.
Doing what you love keeps you young - impaired balance should not keep you from doing what you love! Balance training can benefit many people of all ages. Ask one of our staff if you have a question on how physical therapy could help you!