September 18-24 is National Balance Awareness Week, an effort from the Vestibular Disorders Association to raise awareness of balance issues and vestibular disorders. We would like to take this opportunity to provide some tips on how our patients can overcome balance issues and reduce their risk of being injured in a fall.

What causes balance problems?

  • Muscle weakness
  • Joint stiffness
  • Inner ear problems (vestibular disorders)
  • Certain medications
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Aging

Balance issues arise when one or more of these systems are not working properly:

  • Vision
  • Inner ear (vestibular)
  • Muscular
  • Proprioception (awareness of one’s own body position)

Problems in these systems typically originate from:

  • Vision
    • Age
    • Eye tracking problems
    • Eye disease
  • Inner ear (vestibular)
    • Trauma
    • Aging
    • Poor nutrition
    • Disease
  • Body-position sense
    • Trauma
    • Disease
  • Muscular strength and flexibility
    • Sedentary lifestyle
    • Disease

How can physical therapy help?

Regardless of what the root cause of your balance issue is, physical therapy can help, but your treatment will vary depending on that cause.

Reduce risks
One of the first things that your physical therapist will discuss with you is how to reduce your daily risk of falling. This entails discussing how to reduce physical risks (loose rug, poor lighting, etc.) around the house. Your therapist may also recommend that you change footwear.

Balance exercises
Your physical therapist will design an exercise routine that will help you to improve both static balance (sitting or standing still) and dynamic balance (moving around, multitasking).

Build strength
Many people who are suffering from balance issues lead sedentary lives out of fear of falling. In doing so, they lose strength and muscle mass which, in turn, worsens balance-related issues. By incorporating exercises that will help strengthen your core and stabilizer muscles into your rehabilitation routine, you’ll improve your ability to regain balance.

Improve movement, mobility, flexibility, and posture
Much like the importance of strength training to prime your body to relearn balance, restoring full function to your muscles and joints will also improve your ability to regain balance.

Every person suffering from balance issues has different requirements to regain balance. Your physical therapist will tailor a rehabilitation program specific to you and your needs. By combining the techniques above in some manner, you’ll be back on your feet without fear of falling in no time.

If you’re suffering from balance issues, we can help. Visit our location page to find an office near you and schedule an appointment. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be better.