This is for those who are looking to improve their balance. You may have had a lower limb injury, this could have been from getting into running and injuring your ankle, or did an activity and you’ve injured your ankle, knee, or hip.
Balance is really key. In the clinic’s we see a lot of people with very poor balance, this could be from injury or just not addressing their previous balance issues.
What keeps me upright?
There are three things that keep you upright:
The first is your vision, so everything you see gets sent to your brain and then the brain processes it.
The second is your proprioception, this is awareness of the position and movement of your body. For example your feet touching the ground, the sensory input going up to your brain and letting it know that the foot is touching a particular part of the ground, and then the brain sending signals back to correct you if you are swaying.
The final thing is your vestibular track/vestibular system. This is found in your ears and maintains your balance.
So all three working together keeps you upright!
How do I know what is wrong with my balance?
Firstly we need to work out what factor is not working properly; your vision, proprioception or the vestibular. We can then work on improving your balance.
A simple, easy test that you can do is, stand with your feet close together with your eyes open. Can you maintain your balance?
The next step is to take your vision away. In the same stance, close your eyes, therefore no signals are being send to your brain from your eyes. Can you maintain your balance?
Challenge yourself even more, stand on one leg with your eyes open. Can you maintance your balance?
What exercises can I do to improve my balance?
The first is to try and balance on both legs with your eyes open. If this is easy progress to eyes closed. Then you can start balancing on one leg with your eyes open for 30-60 seconds. If you are good at maintaining your balance with your eyes open, close your eyes and see if this makes it harder. This should not be very difficult unless you had an injury.
To challenge yourself further, you can change the surface that you are standing on to something more unstable, such as a cushion/pillow or a mat. This makes the exercise more functional, as if you are doing any type of sports, you may be on uneven ground. Therefore every step you take, your foot needs to make tiny adjustments to maintance your balance and keep you upright. The same balance exercises are carried out, start the double leg eyes open, then eyes closed, then single leg eyes open and then eyes closed.
If you have mastered that and your balance is improving you can move onto a bosu (usually found in most gyms). Both sides of a bosu can be used for balance exercises. The most easy way is standing on the squidgy side with the flat part on the floor, follow the same exercise pattern as above. To really challenge yourself flip the bosu over so you are standing on the hard flat surface and the squidgy part is on the floor and repeat the exercise pattern again until you can stand on one leg with your eyes closed for 30-60 seconds.
Do you want to improve your balance? here is how…
Try the beginners exercises in the blog above. If you are struggling or want harder exercises why not book in with one of our Personal Trainers or Rehabilitation Specialists, take a look at there profiles here.
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