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

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 »

How does cold weather affect your health?

Cold weather brings a number of health risks for older adults. Close indoor contact with other people puts one at risk for cold and flu. Prolonged exposure to even mild cold puts one at risk for hypothermia. A lack of moisture in the air can make skin dry. And cold weather, which can narrow blood vessels, can increase the risk of heart attack. To fight back against these risks, people can wash their hands frequently, bundle up when going outdoors, use an oil-based skin lotion, shower in lukewarm water, and avoid intense outdoor activity. More »

Chronic condition? You could be at risk for a fall

A person’s health can be a risk factor for a fall. Chronic conditions such as vision problems, Parkinson’s disease, low blood pressure, joint pain, and inner ear problems can all cause imbalance. That can lead to a fall. Side effects from some medications—such as sleeping aids and certain blood pressure medications—may also increase fall risk. Dehydration can cause dizziness, and lead to a fall. Low vitamin D levels may also make someone more at risk for falling. (Locked) More »

Stay flexible to protect your mobility

People need flexible muscles in order to extend the arms and legs, walk across a room, and maintain balance. When muscles aren’t flexible, they lose cells that help them contract. A person becomes weaker and prone to falls. A program of daily stretching is recommended for people who’ve lost flexibility. Three days a week will do the job for someone in better shape.  (Locked) More »