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Why Doing Balance Exercises Is VITAL If You Want To Live a Long Life

May 13, 2022
balance stones

I’m sure you are aware that balance deteriorates with age, but less of you actively seek to improve and maintain it. Do you realise just how IMPORTANT balance is to keep you doing so many activities, healthy and living a longer life?


What is Balance?

Balance is a key component to how you move and often considered a measure of fitness. Balance is your ability to maintain your centre of gravity over your base of support without falling over. The base of support doesn’t have to be your feet, it could also be when on hands and knees or if you are more inclined, your hands only when in a handstand!

Balance is much easier when you are standing still, not performing an activity but when other “perturbations” or challenges to your balance come along such as lifting, reaching, or suddenly moving, you need to rely on your body working automatically, in sync, to keep you upright and maintain your posture.

Balancing is a complex skill that involves your brain, muscles, eyes, and parts of the inner ear. All work together to firstly identify where you are in space and then make the necessary adjustments to keep you there whilst you move or adapt to external forces. These forces could be the sea rocking a boat or the uneven ground you are walking on. It could also involve reacting quickly to other things like a dropped plate or getting out of the way of a cyclist in the road. When lifting and carrying things you need to adapt your weight on your feet to maintain balance with different forces acting on your body.

As you age your ability to balance naturally declines, along with your muscle mass. Combine this with a more sedentary lifestyle means you stop using your joints, muscles and brain in a way that will enable you to respond “appropriately” to these sometimes, sudden challenges to being upright. Use it or lose it they say. This is true of your ability to balance.


Who Can Benefit from Balance Training?

EVERYONE can benefit from improving their balance. Lessons from the world of sport are clear. Balance exercises aren’t just used when recovering from injury, there are best used at preventing future injuries. In a controlled environment you are training your body’s ability to maintain your balance whilst your centre of mass moves outside your base of support such as when reaching, leaning, or adapting to those external forces.

Think of your top surfers or skiers, where would they be without heightened balance?! By practicing balance exercises, you become more aware of your body and an increased sense of control and strength. This will not only help you when running, paddle boarding or horse riding but when chasing a grandchild on the soft sand or carrying a cuppa upstairs.

Let’s make this clear, balance training is VITAL for everyone.


Where to Start

With all of that in mind, the simplest way you can start incorporating balance training into your life today is in the following ways;

· If you drop your keys, reach to pick them up on one leg with the other leg lifting straight into the air behind you and engage your tummy muscles.

· Sit on a gym ball when at your desk, or while watching TV

· Stand on one foot while you brush your teeth, pressing down through your foot

· Stand up and sit down with one foot in front of the other, alternating legs

· Practice looking over your shoulder whilst standing with a chair behind you in case you need to sit back down.

Balance exercises help you control your limbs more skilfully. Not only making you move more smoothly, but it also preventing falls. With good balance, you can quickly adapt to changes in body position, adjusting on the fly to unexpected variations in environment, a cat running under foot whilst you carry washing or rocks that you didn't see underfoot. Think about walking on uneven ground or at the other end of the spectrum, paddle boarding when the wind picks up.


Why Balance Exercises Are Vital

Balance exercises will help you avoid falls. This not only helps you avoid physical damage like broken bones, it gives you confidence and the ability keep living an active and healthy life. The better your balance, the more active you will be and the longer you can live. If you are confident in your body’s ability, you no longer need to worry about whether you might fall every time you leave the house or do different activities. Even if you are young, having this unconscious awareness allows you to feel more confident and in control in your environment, life and avoid injuries.


You Have to Challenge It

Balancing exercises are meant to be challenging. That’s how you improve it. You must always do them in a controlled environment where you could sit down quickly if required of have something to hold on to steady yourself. Consistent effort will make these exercises easier and train your brain and body to adapt in the appropriate way to keep you on your feet.


How To Progress

As each exercise becomes easier, you can try the following;

- Increase durations or repetitions of the exercise

- Try closing your eyes when balancing to take away the visual input that helps you balance.

- Try adding reaches to your balance postures such as reaching over head, towards the floor, to the side or twisting across the body.

- Performing exercises whilst sitting on a gym ball.

- In standing perform the exercises whilst standing on a softer surface like a pillow or cushion.

All these things make it harder to balance. Just change one thing at a time not everything together!


Further Help

If you’ve noticed your balance is deteriorating or you feel worried about it happening, this is totally normal. At the HealthHub we see clients who have these fears or concerns every day. Often problems they have with pain or stiffness makes their balance worse.

The best thing to do is to take action and get some help. Once you’ve noticed things worsening DO something to prevent it. Otherwise, it will only get worse, and your life will become more limited.

We help people every day overcome their balance problems and get back to doing the things they love. You just need to do some consistent small things to achieve it and we are here to help you every step of the way. We’ve even developed some special classes especially for those whose balance has deteriorated. We’ve noticed this a lot since lock down.

We’d love to chat through your problems and see if we can help you with your particular problem. You can book a FREE Discovery Visit with one of our therapists to chat things through or have a phone call. If this sounds good call now on 01548 852355 or email [email protected] to start the process of getting the help you need. Life will become better as you find your freedom again to move, live and love your life.




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