So, it may seem obvious that having better balance may lead to fewer falls, but the key to being more stable on your feet, is understanding how your balance works and how it can be affected.
Falls are a major cause of harm to the older population. Statistics indicated that approximately 25 per cent of people aged 65 or older have experienced a fall in the past 12 months. The majority of these falls occurred in and around their homes, however, research shows that improving balance can reduce the risk of falls and associated injuries.
Balance is reliant upon excellent visual systems, vestibular (inner ear) systems, core stability and hip and leg control. It is important that these systems are all able to work efficiently and together to reduce the likelihood of falls.
Balance can be divided into two components: static and dynamic balance.
Static balance is important for everyday life and involves the ability to maintain control whilst stationary. To test your static balance, try and stand on one leg. Make sure you are standing next to a sturdy item, such as the kitchen bench or the sink. If this is too easy, try testing your balance further by closing your eyes whilst balancing on one leg. Without the ability to maintain static balance, your chances of falling with movement or increased loading are high.
Dynamic balance involves being able to avoid falling whilst moving, such as when reaching, walking, jogging, jumping or even throwing. The more demanding and quicker the movement, the better your dynamic balance needs to be to be able to cope.
The good news is that, with practice, balance can be improved over time. In most cases, your balance deficits can be quickly improved with specific balance or stability exercises. Physiotherapists are equipped to test your static and dynamic balance. They can identify and tailor specific exercises which can make a big difference to reduce the likelihood of falls.
If you are concerned about any aspect of your balance, you should consult a recommended physiotherapist.
Jason Lee APAM
Malvern East Physiotherapy
Jason is happy to answer any questions you may have, simply send an email to [email protected].