What is balance?
Balance is essentially the ability to maintain your line of gravity within your base of support.
Your base of support is what part of you is touching the ground. For example in a standing position this would be keeping you maintained between your two feet. This is why it is more difficult to balance on one foot than it is on two feet as your base of support is decreased and is now just one foot – the one touching the ground.
Several systems in the body are responsible for maintaining balance.
These are proprioceptive, vestibular and visual.
Proprioception involves information being relayed from several tissues in the body like skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints to the brain in order to tell you where that body part is. This is why after tearing ligaments in your ankle it may become more difficult to balance on that foot as the ligament may be less effective at telling your brain where your ankle and foot is.
Vestibular refers to head motion and uses several reflexes to keep the head upright on the shoulders, keep the eyes level as the head moves and to make sure you remain balanced and upright when knocked off center. This is why some conditions of the inner ear can affect balance.
Visual refers to the postural control and stability provided by what we see and how are brain processes that information to keep us balanced. This information contributes less to our overall balance as proprioceptive and vestibular systems but is still important, especially when we are standing on uneven surfaces.
There are several different injuries and conditions that can affect balance, usually by affecting one of the above systems. It can however improve with practice and training.
For example insuring that muscles that control joints in the body have adequate power, co-ordination and functional exercises, gradually exposing the body to progressively more difficult balance requirements like standing on two legs, then one, then one leg on a soft mat.
There are also movement strategies that can be applied, especially for balance training in the elderly.
Head over to the Facebook Resource Group to check out some videos on balance exercises
Get in touch with us at Galway Bay Physio on 091 569 706 or visit us at galwaybayphysio.ie to book an appointment,
and we will be able to help you with any pain you may be experiencing.