There are always extremes in life – a dancer standing on one leg as they turn, an acrobat walking across a tight rope, a child playing hop scotch, a Yogi posing like a crow for minutes at a time. But what about everyone else?
Many people in life just STOP balancing. Once your past playground games, it is just not a part of normal life. It may even be something that you never think about. That is until something happens, it’s a snowy winter and the paths are slippery, the ground is even when you are out for a walk and you suddenly feel unsteady, maybe you know people who have fallen over, or you buy a child a toy and try it out for your self and suddenly realise that you aren’t as good as you thought you were. Some people have always struggled with their balance and even as a child have tried to avoid anything that involves this activity as much as possible.
So why is that important?
As a physiotherapist I see people from all walks of life, injuries have ‘risk factors’ – these are things that can make an injury more likely to happen. One of these factors is poor balance. Falls, sprained ankles, knee pain when running can all be associated with this.
Poor balance can be as a result of different factors some of which are mechanical such as weak leg or core muscles, stiff joints and reduced activity of your balance receptors (proprioception). Some have medical causes for example visual problems, Vertigo ( a vestibular problem), blood pressure or medication side effects. Physiotherapy can help address the mechanical causes. Although there are some specialist physiotherapists who do treat vestibular problems.
Adults should be able to stand on one leg for at least 40-45 seconds between 30 and 60 years of age, 30-35 seconds over between 60 and 70 years and, 20 seconds between 80-90 and 10 seconds over 90 years.
Adding exercises into your daily routine is a simple way to help improve your balance and reduce the risk of injury. Balance exercises have different levels from simple to the advanced.
Basic: The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) has a great booklet that is free to download suitable for those more risk of falls https://www.csp.org.uk/system/files/get_up_and_go_0.pdf.
Intermediate to advanced: For those more advanced there are videos below which show a range of levels.
Pilates class! My clients working hard at different levels.
Examples of balance exercises at different levels (I’m very serous in this!!!!)
You can also buy balance mats, wobble boards or in gyms Bosu balance trainers are common pieces of equipment, or you can even just stand on a cushion. This can add to the fun of exercising – but you must ensure you know what you are doing and be in a safe environment.
Consulting with your GP is also important and many NHS trusts have specialist Falls Clinics.
So ‘Use it or loose it’, it is never too late to start.
Stay connected: Regular posts about health, wellbeing and injury prevention.
The content on or accessible through Borehamwood Physio website, KatyNealePhysio or social medial accounts is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional advice or expert medical services from a qualified healthcare provider. Read More
Nnodim, J. O & Yung, R. L. (2015). Balance and its Clinical Assessment in Older Adults – A Review. Journal of geriatric medicine and gerontology. http://clinmedjournals.org/articles/jgmg/journal-of-geriatric-medicine-and-gerontology-jgmg-1-003.php?jid=jgmg
Springer, B. A., Marin, R., Cyhan, T., Roberts, H., & Gill, N. W. (2007). Normative Values for the Unipedal Stance Test with Eyes Open and Closed. Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy. Vol 30 (1).