Keeping Your Balance
Did you know…
Balance, put simply, is the ability to maintain your center of gravity. It involves strength & stability of the foot, ankle and trunk as well as input from the eyes (visual), inner ear (vestibular system), joints and muscles (proprioceptors). All these systems work together to help us stay upright.
The visual system is really important when it comes to maintaining balance, which is why you can feel wobbly when you get up to go the bathroom in the dark and why your balance can change depending on where you focus your eyes. The vestibular system sends signals to the brain that is related to our head position, orientation in space, and motion. If the vestibular system is “off”, you may feel dizzy and unable to maintain balance. This system isn’t as efficient when we get older explaining why I no longer enjoy roller coasters or curvy roads!
Age-related changes in muscle mass, motor neurons, the vestibular system, eyesight, and even blood pressure can result in balance difficulties, thus leading to an increase in falls in older populations. However, just because these changes happen naturally doesn’t mean we can’t slow the process and make improvements.