In today’s blog I will explain why balance is so important, and share some ways to test your balance to see whether your balance is adequate.
Think about all the things that you do every day that require balance.
When you get dressed – standing to put on your underwear, put your feet into your pants – pull up your pants or skirt, pull clothes over your head. You may have noticed that you have started to sit down to get dressed.
What about washing – getting in or out of the bath, lifting your feet to wash your legs in the shower, closing your eyes whilst you wash your hair. Or have you noticed that you don’t use the bath anymore as it’s difficult to get out. Or that you have to hold onto something in the shower when you lift your feet, or maybe you are sitting on a shower chair?
What about out and about? Stepping down a curb, going up a flight of stairs, bending over to pick something up from the ground, carrying the shopping to the car.
All these activities of daily life involve keeping your balance. And if you are having difficulty with your balance, you will notice that you will have modified how you do things, or avoid certain activities or situations. Worse case, you may have tripped, or fallen – hopefully you haven’t injured yourself.
If you answered yes to any of these balance questions – then you might benefit from having your balance tested. Keep reading to find out how.
But firstly – what should you do if your balance has deteriorated?
At Miami Physio and Lakelands Physio, our expert physios will assess your balance to determine exactly what balance issues are affecting you and will start you on a program to improve your balance, improve your daily function and improve your quality of life.
Balance is a complicated skill, involving multiple body systems. For example, you require the cognitive ability to make a decision in a given situation. You need your body to give you feedback about how you are positioned and where each part of your body is in space currently. You need visual feedback to help orientate you and you need automatic postural reflexes to react to re-centre yourself. You need muscular strength to be able to make postural adjustments and reactions.
If any of these systems aren’t working as well as they could, your balance will be affected. But the good news is that at Miami Physio and Lakelands Physio, once we have assessed which system needs improving, we can teach you the skills and exercises that you need to improve.
If you have fallen over in the last year, or you have had to change your lifestyle due to a fear of falls, then you will benefit from a balance assessment with one of our physios. Click on our link to find out more, or to book a balance assessment.
Here’s some statistics to explain the importance of staying on your feet and preventing falls. In 2016/2017 30% of Australians over the age of 65 suffered a fall. In WA alone, 43408 people presented to the A&E at a hospital due to an injury from a fall. In fact, more ambulances were dispatched for falls than car crashes, assaults and strokes combined. 336 people died as a result of a fall in 2016.
But, let’s finish on a positive! Balance and falls prevention exercises can decrease falls by up to 55%. These programs are scientifically proven and importantly are easy. So if you have read this far, you are the very person I am here to help. If you want to test yourself – there are some good functional tests to try: the stand-sit-stand test, the timed-up-and-go, the gait speed test, the short physical performance battery. Have a look through our FB vids to find them in our previous uploads. If you struggle with any of these tests – don’t be one of the statistics – click on the link and book an appointment to have your balance tested and get a program designed for you.