Seniors Wellbeing – Balance

Balance is something that we all tend to lose as we age if we do not stay on top of it.  However, there are things you can do to maintain balance and even improve it over time.  Falls are one of the biggest injuries that seniors face. A good portion of these falls can be attributed to a loss of mobility and balance. Falls and resulting injuries can impact one’s ability to live independently. The good news is, many of the exercises that can assist you in improving your balance can be done with minimal equipment and without a gym membership!

Exercises To Improve Balance:

Standing On One Foot

Being able to comfortably stand on one leg is important to maintaining good balance.  You can easily practice this at home while holding on to a chair or supporting yourself using a wall.  As your balance improves, you can do this without support. Your goal can be to stand on one foot without support to approximately a minute.  Be patient and build up to that goal over time.

Heel-Toe Walking

Walking can help to make your legs stronger.  Practicing this technique at home can help improve your balance.  As you walk, put one foot directly in front of the other so the heel and toe touch. Obviously, heel-toe walking is not a very efficient way to walk around so you only want to practice it for about 20 steps.  You can guide yourself along a wall until to are comfortable enough to do it unsupported.

Back Leg Raises/Leg Extension

This is a great exercise to strengthen your glutes.  Our glutes are important to keep strong as we need them to assist with many of the activities of daily living (ie: going up and down stairs, sitting down and getting up from a seated position).  As our glutes weaken, we tend to use the wrong muscle groups which can lead to injury. With this exercise, you can hold onto a chair and extend your leg back behind you while focusing on squeezing the glutes to do so.  Repeat 10-15 times per side.

Standing Cross-Crawl/Single Limb Stance With Arm

Think of this as marching in place with a big arm swing.  We are wired to move our opposite arm and leg as we walk. With this exercise, it helps our brain to recognize that pattern by improving physical coordination.  While standing, lift your left hand overhead, followed by slowly lifting your right foot off of the floor. Start small by holding for a short period. Gradually increase how far you are lifting your foot and how long you are holding the position.  Repeat on the opposite side. This one can be tricky if you are struggling with your balance so work up to it over time.

Toe Lifts

Toe lifts, also known as calf raises, can be a great strengthening exercise for your legs.  If you are suffering from bunions or other foot issues, you may be a little more off balance so do use the support of a chair if you need.  Standing with feet firmly on the ground, come up on your toes while using a chair in front of you to stabilize. Lift and lower yourself to your comfort 20 times.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a form of exercise which focuses on fluid movements, stretching, and mindfulness.  It can be a great addition to your routine if you are looking to improve your balance. Many community centres offer classes in Tai Chi.  You can also find videos on YouTube to get you started.  Again, build up your tolerance over time.

What Else Affects Balance:

Inner Ear

Problems with the inner ear can contribute to balance issues.  Fluid, infections, debris can all irritate the semicircular canals.  Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) can result in brief periods of vertigo brought on by head movement.

Eyes

Cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and weakening eyesight are all considered risk factors for balance issues.  It’s important to continue to have your eyes checked regularly as we age.

Medications

It’s important to discuss medication side effects with your family physician and pharmacist.  Some medications may make you more prone to feel off balance or dizzy.

Our chiropractors, physiotherapists, and registered massage therapists are here to ensure your body is moving at it’s best.  If you’ve experienced an injury or are having trouble with your balance, we are here to help. For more information on our providers, please visit www.curavita.com.