Balance & Mobility

Balance is the ability to distribute your weight in a way that lets you stand or move without falling, or recover if you trip. Good balance requires the coordination of several parts of the body: the central nervous system, inner ear, eyes, muscles, bones, and joints. Problems with any one of these can affect balance. Medical conditions can also affect balance. These include:

·       stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and other disorders of the central nervous system

·       Meniere's disease and other conditions that originate in the inner ear, which can cause vertigo and dizziness

·       cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma, which distort vision

·       weakness in major muscles, particularly the thighs, abdomen, and back

·       nerve damage in the legs and feet (peripheral neuropathy) can affect the ability to sense the ground you're standing or walking on.

Other things can also influence balance, including:

·       medications, including antidepressants, drugs for anxiety, pain medication, sleeping pills, antihistamines, and some heart and blood pressure medications.

·       alcohol, which slows reaction time and affects judgment and coordination

A medical exam can identify conditions that may impair balance, and identify drugs that may have side effects that cause lightheadedness.

 

Improving muscle strength in the legs and the core can improve balance. So can exercises like Tai chi that increase flexibility.

Balance & Mobility Articles

6 low-cost or no-cost home modifications to avoid falls

Many fall hazards are right in people’s homes. But inexpensive fixes at home can help prevent falls and injuries. Handrails can be installed along indoor and outdoor staircases, hallways, and anywhere extra support is needed. Grab bars should be installed near showers, bathtubs, and toilets. Install non-slip treads and mats to help improve traction on bathroom floors, outside decks, and outside steps. It’s also helpful to fix crumbling outdoor steps, loose wall-to-wall carpeting, and floorboards. Finally, adequate lighting in hallways, stairways, and outdoor walkways can help reduce falls. More »

Walkers: Take steps to enjoy this great mobility tool

Walkers help give people their independence back. They improve daily function, and they reduce the risk of falling. For most people, it takes a few physical therapy sessions to learn to use a walker correctly. The key is practice. Users learn how to navigate different surfaces, such as carpeting, tile floors, sidewalks, and grass. They must also learn how to use all of the features of the equipment, such as which buttons to push so that the walker folds. (Locked) More »

Yoga Balance Workout

Yoga does an excellent job of strengthening and stretching muscles essential for balance. The yoga poses described below challenge static balance, the ability to stand in one spot without swaying, and dynamic balance, the ability to anticipate and react to changes as you move. Successfully managing these tasks requires you to keep your center of gravity poised over a base of support. Focus on good form, rather than worrying about how many reps you can complete. If you find an exercise especially difficult, do fewer reps or try the easier variation. As you improve, try a harder variation.  Reps: 2–4   Sets: 1Intensity: Moderate to highHold: 10 breaths or 10–30 seconds Starting position: Stand up straight, feet hip-width apart and weight evenly distributed on both feet. Put your arms at your sides. More »

Can you put off that knee surgery?

Surgery is not always necessary to relieve knee pain. The first line of treatment is three months of physical therapy. Physical therapy can be complemented with other means of pain relief. Shedding pounds reduces the pressure placed on the knee. Corticosteroid injections can temporarily reduce pain and swelling, which can make it less painful to take part in physical therapy. Acupuncture is helpful to some people. Some people find that chondroitin and glucosamine supplements relieve pain. More »

Could that leg pain be peripheral artery disease?

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is marked by leg pain or fatigue that develops after a person has been walking or climbing stairs for a few minutes. It develops when atherosclerosis has narrowed the arteries carrying oxygen-rich blood to the leg muscles. People who have PAD must quit smoking, as well as get high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes under control. Treatment for PAD is often as simple as a walking program but may include surgery to improve blood flow. (Locked) More »

Walking Workout with Resistance Bands - Video

Walking with resistance bands is a workout allows you to exercise your upper body and at the same time your legs are getting great exercise. It’s a perfect addition to your routine if one of your goals is to firm up or to build strength. More »

Best exercise for balance: Tai chi

Tai chi is an exercise that can help reduce the risk of falling, which can help reduce the risk of suffering an injury. The exercise uses a series of slow, flowing motions, and deep, slow breathing to exercise the body and calm the mind. Participants move from one pose to another gradually, shifting their weight and extending their limbs to challenge their balance. It looks like a graceful dance. Tai chi has its roots in the Chinese martial arts.  More »

Fall prevention basics

A fall can be dangerous, especially if it causes a broken hip. Understanding the most common reasons for falls and taking some steps to lessen the chance of a fall can help prevent injuries. (Locked) More »