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July 05, 2021


Everything You Need to Know About Improving Your Balance


We know that 1 in 3 older Australians will have a fall this year. Many of these falls could be prevented by undertaking regular balance exercises. Research suggests that tailored and specific balance exercises can reduce your risk of a fall by 23%! 

At Health in Balance, we can determine the ideal types and dose of exercise that will improve your balance and stability, through a range of tests and assessments looking at different bodily systems that control our balance. 

So what are the systems that we assess and look to improve with balance training? 

Proprioceptive System

This system sends sensory information between different body parts and our nervous system to help it determine where our body is in space and stay upright. We can practice some exercises that focus on speeding up these neural pathways, or the nerves between our legs and our brain. The way we do this is by standing or walking with our feet in different positions, such as one foot in front of the other, or standing on something unstable such as foam, a pillow or a balance disc.

Musculoskeletal System

Another way regular balance training can help is by improving our musculoskeletal system, specifically our muscle mass or size, our muscle strength and our power. So undertaking some regular resistance training for the muscles in our legs and trunk is a great way to improve your balance.

Vestibular System

If the way our body provides sensory information from the inner ear about head position, spatial orientation and motion is compromised, we are more likely to lose our balance and fall. There are specific exercises we can do to help improve the function of our vestibular system.

Gait

The way we walk, or our gait, also plays a role in our ability to stay balanced. Changes to our gait can occur over time for a variety of reasons such as age, previous injury or some neurological conditions. Luckily there are some exercises that focus on improving the efficiency of the way that we walk; we call these gait re-training exercises. Examples of these exercises include things like walking over hurdles, around cones or focusing on toe position.

Dual Tasking

Exercises that practice your ability to dual task are another way we can use specific exercises to help improve our balance. Being able to do 2 things at once such as walking across the road and turning your head to look at cars or carrying shopping bags up some steps are important things that we need to be able to do in our daily lives, but they also increase our risk of falling. We can practice these same tasks in a safe and controlled environment, and this can be an effective way to improve our ability to dual task and therefore balance.


Before you start, some precautions

Now we know some of the ways we can tailor exercise programs to help improve our balance, there are also some other risk factors to having a fall or losing our balance that we can easily modify and minimise our risk of injury.

Footwear

The first of these is wearing appropriate and safe footwear. Ensuring you are wearing footwear that isn’t going to increase your risk of falling is important. Some examples are: not wearing shoes that are old and falling apart or worn out on the sole, ensuring the shoelaces on your shoes can’t be tripped over and wearing appropriate footwear for the task at hand, such as not wearing slippers when you are walking on a slippery kitchen floor.

Slow and Mindful Steps

It is also very common for us to hear that someone was rushing when they have had a fall. Taking our time and being mindful of our surroundings is another way we can easily reduce our falls risk and improve our ability to balance. For example if we are taking the bins out to the street, making sure we do this slowly and not tripping over the neighbour’s cat.

Vision

The last simple way we can improve our balance is to ensure our vision is not compromised. This means doing things like: ensuring you are wearing your glasses when you need to, or turning the lights on when we are going to the bathroom in the middle of night. 

For a tailored balance program by an Accredited Exercise Physiologist, contact Health In Balance to book your consultation today!  


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