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Improving Balance and Reducing Injuries

Balance is what gives us the ability to walk on two legs and perform our daily routines.  Our sense of balance changes over the course of our entire lives. Balance and the vestibular system develop as we grow from a baby all the way through adulthood, and then declines as we get older.

Most people don’t know their balance is not optimum until they suffer a sports injury, trip and fall, or lose their balance in the shower. No matter what your age, balance affects your ability to be active.

Here are some questions to ask yourself before you risk falling:

Can you do this?

  • Stand next to a counter or sink barefoot with your hand gently grasping the counter surface.
  • Put one foot directly in front of the other, so that one heel is touching the opposite toes.
  • Gently lift your hand up, but keep it close to the counter in case you need to grab it quickly. Try to hold this for 10 seconds (only do this if you feel safe or have someone nearby to help you).
  • Now try it with you eyes closed.
  • Do you wobble a lot or even lose your balance? Your balance needs work!

Why does our ability to balance decline?

  • Changes in our vestibular system
  • Changes in muscle mass, flexibility and strength
  • Changes in eyesight
  • Diminishing reflexes
  • Previous injuries to ankle, knee, hip or spinal joints

How balance affects sports performance:

The more aggressive you are in sports, the better your balance and reflexes have to be. Many ankle, knee, hip and back injuries in running, tennis and other sports are attributed to poorly performing balance. By incorporating simple balance exercises into your workout routine, you can set yourself up for success and prevent injuries, as well as enhance your sports performance.

How balance affects back pain:

How you walk directly impacts your back and can actually be a big contributor to back pain. By improving balance, coordination and strength in your hips, pelvis and legs, your spine will be supported and guided, reducing strain. This in turn, helps your back function normally without aggravation and inflammation. Balance activities are an important component of our SPINE Program for relieving back pain.

Preventing falls:

According to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC), more than 2.5 million adults were treated for nonfatal injuries in emergency departments in 2013. In older adults, falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries. Most people don’t think about keeping their balance in shape, until it is too late and they fall, fracturing an arm, leg or injuring their back. The good news is that most falls can easily be prevented, simply by regular exercising and challenging your balance system.

How can you improve your balance?

Balance training has been shown to be very effective in challenging the balance system so you are in turn reducing your fall risk. A therapist can evaluate your specific needs and design a program focused on strengthening and balance exercises to improve overall function. Balance training exercises will be used to help the body practice reacting to thing that might create a balance issues like an uneven walk way or getting pushed suddenly. Strengthening exercises will also prepare the body to better respond and react to a loss of balance and therefore reduce the risk of falling.

Call LSTC today at 703-450-4300 to learn more about our specialized programs and how you can get back to an active, pain-free lifestyle!

CLICK HERE for some balance assessments you can try at home.

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