Balance is just about everything—walking, standing, getting out of a chair, and even leaning over to pick up something. Strong muscles, the coordination and the ability to do everything yourself makes a lot of difference to the confidence in maintaining a good balance.
Falling is one of the most serious problems that injures millions of people every year. Aging, however, is not the single reason why people lose their balance. Accidents and strokes also tend to act as reasons for balance issues, along with medical conditions like vestibular schwannoma, growth in core nerve areas.
There are three balance tests that we can do at home to find out if we have balance issues:
- Stand with both our feet together, anklebones touching, arms folded across the chest and then close the eyes. It is normal to sway a little, we should be able to stand for 60 seconds without moving our feet.
Next, place one foot directly in front of the other, and then close our eyes. We should be able to stand for 38 minutes on either side.
- Stand on one foot and bend other knee, lifting our non-supporting foot off of the floor without letting it touch standing leg. Do this in a doorway so we can grab the sides if we start to fall.
Repeat with your eyes closed. Younger people can stand for 29-30 seconds with their eyes open and between 21-25 seconds with their eyes closed. People above 60 years old will have something around 22 seconds with their eyes open and 10 seconds with their eyes closed.
- Stand on one foot, with hands on the hips, place the unsupported foot against the inside of the knee of the standing foot.
Raise your heel off the ground and stand on your toes. It’s normal to do this for 25 seconds and beyond. Make sure that there is someone to support in case one loses balance.
Balance training involves exercises that tone and strengthen the muscles to keep one straight, including the legs and the body core. The idea of these exercises is to improve stability and prevent falls.
Some balance exercises include:
- Standing on one leg and lifting the other away from the body or behind. This can be done with support to start with, and then eventually without the support.
- Sitting on a chair or standing up without using your hands.
- Doing Yoga or Tai Chi.
Over a period of time, the balances can be improved by:
- Adding more repetitions.
- Doing this with the eyes closed.
- Letting go of the support.
Usually, balance training involves slow and methodological movements. One can do balance training exercises at home with the use of a chair or a ball. So, there is not much cost involved, unless you would want to take regular training sessions of Yoga or Tai Chi.
Balance training is good for people of all ages and fitness levels. It is recommended for older adults to help prevent falls. Balance exercises can be done in a room, in a park, or at the beach.
The greatest point of balance exercises is that anyone can and should do it. Balance training improves the health, balance, and performance of everyone, from beginners to advanced levels.
To get the most out of balance workouts, following the below readiness steps is recommended:
- Have someone close to partner on the exercises.
- Wear comfortable and supportive sneakers.
- Once a comfort level is reached, try the exercises with light weight dumb bells.
For people with life style diseases like Cholesterol, Diabetes, Hypertension, balance exercises are a right place to start. Core and balance exercises should be the main areas of focus.
As one grows stronger and more stable with the core and balance exercises, focus can move to more intense ones like aerobic exercises and weight training.
For pregnant women with balance issues, exercises should be chosen carefully. Emphasis should be on exercises that are stable and have low chances of a fall.
There should always be a consulting done with the medical practitioner before starting off exercises during pregnancy. The highlight would be to follow exercises that can be performed even after pregnancy.
Equipment that can help with these exercises:
- Indoboard: A board placed over a rolling cylinder, that ensures that you need to be balanced on both sides of the board. However, this should not be for beginners / pregnant women.
- Fitball: Can be used in the park, in the room and open area.
- Bosu ball: Semi circle with a hard part to stand on. Requires quite some practice.
- Skateboard: The most popular of all and some of us would have had this during our childhood days.
- Rotator discs: The common ones that you see in any gym and used to twist. These also help a lot for such balancing acts.
To learn more about Physical Therapy equipment, visit our page at https://bmec.asia/rehab/
JumpStart by WedMD | https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/a-z/balance-training