Exercise and physical fitness usually focus on strength, flexibility, and even range of motion in a joint. These are all important for physical fitness and overall well-being. However, so is balance.

What Does Balance Have to Do With Health?

If someone has balance issues, they have difficulty in basic daily functions. These could include standing, sitting, or even walking with their body fully upright.

If an individual is experiencing issues in their coordination, it could mean that one of the following body systems isn’t working as it should:

Vision

If you’re showering with your eyes closed and feel yourself becoming unsteady, this could be a vision issue.

Inner Ear

If you’re walking down the driveway to get the mail and can’t seem to go in a straight line, this could be an inner ear issue.

Muscular System

If you’re spending time outside playing with your grandchildren, and struggling to remain upright, this could be a coordination issue of the muscular system.

Any coordination issues could result from a combination of systems being out impaired in some way, and it’s important to understand what factors affect coordination—and could be impacting your body.

What Can Cause Circumstantial Changes in Coordination?

Different physical sensations that are natural to life can cause subtle changes to your body’s sense of coordination–as simple as walking from a smooth sidewalk onto a gravel driveway. Here are three different kinds of influences:

Vision

Your eyes aren’t always open. For example, whenever you sneeze, you temporarily lose your vision. Furthermore, depending on your body’s ability to maintain balance, this could cause you difficulty.

Vestibular Motion

This is a fancy way of referring to the way that your head motion and body movements can coordinate together. If you find it disorienting to turn your head side to side in disagreement while doing something else with your hands, that could be a poor sign.

Sensation

This applies to our first example, of switching surfaces while walking. Coordination that is altered by sensation is a normal thing, but if it’s something that your body struggles to adapt to more than usual that could be cause for concern.

What are Some High-Risk Demographics for Balance Issues and Falls?

Some people are more at risk of balance impairment issues, especially as they age. If you have a history of the following conditions, you may be at higher risk:

  • Diabetes
  • Neuropathy
  • Stroke
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Fractures
  • Total hip or knee replacement
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

How Can You Train Your Body?

There are two different types of balance that you can focus on improving, depending on your body’s needs: static balance and dynamic balance.

What is Static Balance?

Static balance refers to being balanced whenever you’re still. This could be while you’re sitting or standing. Those with excellent static balance can, for instance, stand on one foot with ease.

To improve your static balance, try this:

  • Stand with your feet firmly together.
  • Move your head up, center, down, and center again, at about one movement per second.
  • Move your head left, center, right, center, at about one movement per second.
  • Attempt the same movements in sequence, but with your eyes closed.

What is Dynamic Balance?

Dynamic balance refers to being balanced whenever you’re in motion. This could be while walking, for example, or carrying groceries up a flight of stairs. Additionally, individuals who practice yoga, tai chi or Pilates have excellent dynamic balance.

Finally, this can be improved through a wide variety of exercises–from lunges and to touches, to walking regularly.

Is Your Balance Impaired? You May Need a Physical Therapist

It may be time to make an appointment with Crawley Physical Therapy and Rehab. A trained professional physical therapist can help you with strengthening, static and dynamic balance, how to modify exercises for home, and how to practice in a safe community.

Contact Crawley Physical Therapy and Rehab today to make an appointment.