21065 Powerline Road, Suite A2 Boca Raton, FL 33433 561.883.7800
12040 South Jog Road, Suite 8 Boynton Beach, FL 33437 561.733.5083
8645 North Military Trail, Suite 401 Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410 561.619.9520
Everything we do relies heavily on our ability to balance, yet maintaing physical balance skills is one of the most underrated aspects of well-being. As we age, we gradually start to lose our muscle strength, vision and sensory perception – all things that contribute to our ability to balance. As a result, our mobility can be compromised and lack of mobility can lead to falling, which can lead to a whole new set of health issues.
The good news is that physical balance is a learned skill that can be maintained and improved by practice. Balance exercises can strengthen our self-perception which can help the body to better position our muscles and allow us to sense where our body needs to be without looking. In addition, practicing balance builds muscle and increases range of motion in the joints, which helps in distributing weight evenly, creating overall stability.
Who couldn’t use a little more balance in life? The purpose of this page is to focus on training and improving your balance skills. Whether you are an athlete-in-training or just getting a little older, the benefits of these balance tips will carry over into your workouts and many areas of your life. For older adults in particular, poor balance can lead to falls. Every year one in three adults 65 and older falls at least once and for many these can be serious. More than 90% of hip fractures are a result of a fall, but they can also result in a fracture of the spine, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm and hand.
Our daily balancing act requires multiple different body systems to be constantly working together. These include the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), the vestibular system (brain and inner ear), the visual system (brain and eye) and a vast web of position-sensing nerves. Balance is like muscle strength: The more you use it, the less likely you are to lose it. Worse, it can become a vicious circle. You feel a little unsteady, so you curtail certain activities. If you’re inactive, you’re not challenging your balance systems or using your muscles. As a result, both balance and strength suffer. Simple acts, such as strolling through a grocery store or rising from a chair, become trickier. That shakes your confidence, so you become less active … and so the vicious circle continues.
Good balance, by contrast, helps prevent potentially disabling falls. It builds confidence and fosters independence.
A couple of simple exercises to improve balance: first, stand up straight behind a chair, holding the back of it with both hands. Put your feet together and evenly distribute your weight on both feet. Slowly lift your right leg straight out to the side about 6 inches off the floor. Hold. Return to starting position. Repeat 10 times, then repeat with the left leg. This completes one set; do 1-3 sets.
Another is after choosing a path free of obstacles, place a soup can on the floor about 10 feet from a chair. Sit in the chair with your hands on your thighs. Stand up and walk forward to the soup can. Walk around the can and return to the chair. Slowly sit down in the chair. Repeat 10 times.
Tips and Techniques:
After rising from the chair, steady yourself if necessary before walking toward the soup can.
Go at your own pace.
Even if you are conscientious about doing regular aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises, if you feel that your balance isn’t what it used to be, talk to your doctor or to a physical or occupational therapist about learning balance exercises. They could help protect you against falling.
Pipers Glen Plaza
12040 South Jog Road, Suite 8
Boynton Beach, FL 33437 P: 561.733.5083 F: 561.733.5084
The Shops at Boca Grove
21065 Powerline Road, Suite A2
Boca Raton, FL 33433 P: 561.883.7800 F: 561.883.7801
12040 South Jog Road, Suite 7
Boynton Beach, FL 33437 P: 561.510.7136 F: 561.510.7152
Square Lake North Plaza
8645 North Military Trail, Suite 401
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410 P: 561.619.9520 F: 561.619.9522