Understanding Balance and its Importance
Balance is the ability to maintain control of a particular body position while doing a task with minimal "wobble". Balance is really important in activities like riding a bike, but it's also important when walking downstairs or on uneven terrain, or even performing every day tasks. Good balance means performing tasks efficiently, with smooth movement, and when you have good control over your body's movement, you reduce fatigue as well.
There are two basic categories of balance, Static and Dynamic.
- Static balance is the ability to maintain control of a position while staying still - for example, balancing on one leg or holding a headstand.
- Dynamic balance is the ability to maintain balance and control of the body while moving, such as running, jumping, hopping, riding a bike or snowboarding.
Balance problems can be caused by inner ear problems, vision problems, muscle and joint issues, nervous system problems, heart and circulatory system problems, complications from diabetes, medications, and even anxiety. And as anyone who has ever had a balance problem can tell you, it can start with feeling dizzy from any of these sorts of issues, which can lead to nausea, and can also result in falls and injury.
How We Can Help at Performance Physical Therapy
At Performance PT, we concentrate on the role that bones, joints, muscles, and nerves play in having good balance. Improved balance can help people at any age avoid injury, but it's particularly important in maintaining independence in older adults who may be at greater risk for falls and fractures.
Please click here to see how to test your own balance at home, with some simple tests to assess your balance. If you have trouble doing some of these tests, it's time to visit us for a more comprehensive exam, and see your doctor for a full check up.
Designing a Program Just For You
At Performance Physical Therapy, we will do a comprehensive exam, including a detailed questionnaire about your history, to evaluate what may be causing balance problems, and what we can do to help improve them. We help you improve both your static and dynamic balance, so that you will be more stable whatever you do.
We help you work on proprioception - your body's ability to locate itself in space. Through a complex system of environmental feedback, cues from the bottom of your feet, the relation of your inner ear to gravity, and what you see, your body senses which muscles to activate or deactivate to maintain your desired position. It does this when you stand, get up from a chair, or walk on the sidewalk, but also when you try to get something off a shelf, go up on your tiptoes, and participate in sports.
A balance training program will allow you to master what once seemed like impossible tasks - just like you did when you first removed the training wheels from your childhood bike.
Training will help you develop greater balance, and you'll see improvements in coordination, athletic skill, and posture. This in turn will result in fewer injuries and greater stability as you age, which can help prevent falls and keep you both strong and independent longer. These are the very benefits that have led many coaches, trainers, and athletes to incorporate balance training into their workouts for even the youngest athletes.