Many clients I see have very poor balance skills when they first attend The Studio. This usually improves hugely within a few weeks. I am frequently asked why it is that our balance is so bad, and, why it is important to improve it.
Firstly, why is our balance poor?
Balance is a motor skill which we acquire in childhood. It requires the use of large muscles groups and although this skill remains with us throughout our lives it deteriorates with age. At any stage of your life it is possible to improve your balance skills with training.
The ageing process causes muscle weakness which will affect the body's ability to recover from a trip on an uneven surface. With age often comes inner ear misbalance causing dizziness or blood pressure issues which can cause light-headedness. Also failing eyesight means you may mis-judge uneven surfaces, or distances from objects. All of these situations can easily lead to falls.
How big a problem is this?
It is estimated that 30% of the over 65's fall every year, and more than half of the over 75's living in nursing homes or care facilities are unable to live independently because of falling.
Women suffer from bone thinning (osteoporosis) and this increases the risk of hip fractures if they suffer a fall. Almost 50% of hip fractures are seen in people who had no mobility problems prior to their fall, however only 50% recovered to their previous level of mobility (NICE 2012)
How does this affect you?
- Every time you walk you put all of your weight on your front foot as you lift the back foot up to swing it through. If you step on an uneven surface, ice or simply misjudge the height of a kerb you will need to be able to balance on one leg for that little bit longer than usual to avoid falling. This is particularly true when walking down steps.
- When you reach up to a high shelf you probably balance on one leg to gain extra height.
- When you get out on the car you will place one foot down and put your weight through that leg as you push up to standing. The added twist provides more challenge to the balance and it is easy to strain your back if your muscle structure doesn't support you too.
Things to remember
- Balance can be improved with practise both in a controlled environment such as with an exercise therapist and at home.
- Improved core strength gives better balance.
- A fall can signal the end of independent living, changing your life completely.
- Improve your balance and you'll improve your overall health and wellbeing.
If you are not currently attending The Studio, call me to arrange an appointment where I can assess your balance and help you to improve it.