Balance – Are you losing yours?

What can you do about it?

Where to start?

As we get older, sometimes balance can become impaired. Injuries can also affect balance as can neurological conditions.

Within the elderly population, losing balance and having falls can get more and more common. This can lead to hospital omissions and sometimes even broken bones which is obviously less than desirable!

So what to do about this… There is a large body of research out in the scientific community around balance and the elderly and one that sticks out is the OTAGO balance programme that was developed in New Zealand and has been shown to have a great effect in

improving balance in the elderly. In the sporting community, ankle sprains make up a high proportion of injury. With these types of

injuries comes a disruption in proprioception which in turn can lead to balance problems and reinjury of the same injury!

Some balance injuries can occur from other conditions such as inner ear infections, labyrinthitis, strokes and in the older population balance issues can occur from UTI’s.

Some simple balance exercises that you can follow are:

“quiet standing” – for all of these exercises, hold for 30 seconds before trying the next stage, also stand close to a kitchen surface or back of chair just in case you lose balance.

-Feet shoulder width apart with eyes open

-Feet together with eyes open

-One foot infront of the other with eyes open – switch to the other way round (one will be easier than the other)

-Eyes closed

-Feet shoulder width apart

-Feet together

-One foot infront of the other – switch to the other way round

Now try walking heel of front foot touching toes of back foot for a few steps:

-Single leg stance eyes open

-Single leg stance eyes closed

For all you ankle injuries out there! Now try standing on a squishy cushion with double legs and then move to single leg stance. The try hopping vertically upwards then long hops and then side to side hops. Take this slowly as you wont be able to complete all of these in one session.

Strength is another important aspect to balance, so having strong legs and core will help you balance in all sorts of situations. So completing things like:

-Glute bridges or mini squats

-Long lever glute bridges or wide base mini squats

-Banded leg extension or static quad raises

-Calf raises

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