10 Seconds To Better Balance
By Dr. Doug
Balance is an often neglected skill that has huge impact on a person’s quality of life. Falls are the second leading cause of accidental death, and aging is a leading cause of poor balance for several reasons. Worsening vision reduces the visual input that we need to stay upright. Decreased signals sent by nerves from the feet reduce the sense we should have about where our feet are in relation to the rest of our body. Other specific diseases can also negatively affect someone’s ability to maintain proper balance.
Researchers in Brazil found that 20% of older adults couldn’t balance on one leg for 10 seconds or longer. They found that this inability to balance lead to a doubling of the person’s risk of death from any cause in the following 10 years.
How can you test your balance?
Most importantly, do it carefully. Stand with two hands on a counter, lift on foot off the floor, and then raise your hands off the counter. If you start wobbling, you can grab the counter again. If you weren’t able to balance for at least 10 seconds, you have some work to do. If you did stay without much wobbling, good for you.
What simple balance exercises should you do?
For those of you who had trouble with the balance test, the first exercise is similar. With only finger tips on the counter, try to lift your leg and stay balanced for a couple seconds at first. As that gets easier, hold for 10 seconds or so. If that gets too easy, lift the hands off, or use only one hand. To further increase in difficulty close your eyes… but with this step, make sure you are within reach of the counter to keep from toppling over.
There are other exercises to work up to. Tandem stance is standing heel of one foot to the toe of the other foot while holding onto something with one hand for support. Then try to lift your hand off the support, working up to 30 seconds eventually. Squats done without support are another exercise to work up to. This works on movements that we do every day, from going up and down stairs to getting in and out of a chair.
Once you feel comfortable with the basic balance exercises, other activities like Tai Chi, yoga, dancing, or even working with free weights will give more advanced levels of balance exercises.
Struggling With Your Balance? Book An Appointment With Dr. Doug To Get Some Help!
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