Don’t throw a wobbly! – The importance of balance and how to improve it.

Balance is a vital element in every day life to avoid falls, embarrassment and worse, injury.

Falling and losing balance is one of the most common problems as we get older, increased dizziness and decreased balance can lead to falls and injuries. One third of adults over 65 experience a fall every year, which depending on severity can lead to possible injury and complications. Due to this It becomes more apparent the importance of improving your balance to limit any complications from falls.

Why is balance affected in old age? As we age we lose muscle mass and strength. Having sufficient muscle mass and strength can assist with balance as when we begin to lose balance, the muscles will react to control and regain stability. If there is no strength or power behind that muscle, then we are more likely to fall.

You may think that it is not important for you, why should you train balance if you don’t participate in sport or exercise. The reality is that we need good balance for everyday tasks, be pulling out the weeds in your allotment, climbing up those stairs, carrying the grandkids, if you let your strength decline it can reduce your independence, in turn affecting simple everyday tasks you may take for granted.

Let’s talk Proprioception. Proprioception is the awareness of position of the body and movements in a space, the ability for the brain to sense movement of a particular joint and it’s positioning. This ability is quite often a subconscious reaction and we don’t give it much thought, but reduced proprioception can lead to injury and poor balance. It is important to train the brain and sensory nervous system, to become more aware of the body preventing any possible injuries in future.

One of the main areas to help with balance and the ability for the body to control movement is the core, these are the muscles surrounding your pelvis, lower back, abdomen and hips, working together to control and stabilise. You may have heard people mention core strength before and put off by the idea of millions of sit ups a day and a never ending plank but there are many ways to train the core and the benefits are worthwhile. It can be so straightforward, that you can do many of the exercises from the comfort of your own home, with minimal equipment. Increasing core strength can improve balance and reduce risk of injury, such as low back pain, muscle injuries and poor posture. Strengthening the core muscles help to increase muscular endurance, which allows ease of the body to control and stabilise the body in certain movements, assisting with every day tasks.

Exercise to do

Glute bridge

Balance on cushion (unstable surface) 2leg, single and closed eye.

Straight line walking

Heel toe walking

Single leg squat/ deadlift

Wobble board