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

Pill-free way to reduce pain and improve balance and flexibility

Yoga is a series of postures and breathing techniques that include an element of awareness. It has many components that can help one cope with everything from chronic illness to sleep disorders. The poses help decrease muscular tension and build flexibility and strength. Weight-bearing postures can help build bone strength, and there are postures to improve balance. The mindfulness aspect of yoga helps with stress reduction, improves sleep, and helps one become more accepting of the body during the aging process. (Locked) More »

Improve your balance by strengthening your core

Strengthening the core muscles can help improve one’s balance. The core muscles are located in the hips, back, and abdomen. A strong core also improves posture; reduces stress and pain in the lower back; and improves athletic performance, such as swinging a golf club. Strengthening usually includes strenuous exercises such as planks, sit-ups, push-ups, and crunches for younger people. For older people, core strengthening can be as simple as small, repetitive movements, such front and side standing leg lifts to strengthen the abs, shoulder blade squeezes to strengthen the scapulae, and a pelvic tilt to strengthen the abs. (Locked) More »

Choosing a high-tech alerting device

Medical alerting devices are effective tools for people who want to live independently and safely in their own homes. The wearable devices summon help immediately in a medical emergency, such as a bad fall, a stroke, or a heart attack. When looking for a device, it’s important to consider one that’s easy to use, has free replacement service for equipment that’s not working, is waterproof so that it can be worn in the bathroom (where most falls occur), and is portable for travel. (Locked) More »

Easy exercises for couch potatoes

Utilizing time in front of a TV by exercising during commercial breaks can help improve health. That’s because minimizing long periods of inactivity can help reduce the risk of injury and may even increase life span. Simple exercises or “couchersizes” include standing up and sitting down repeatedly to help strengthen quadriceps and gluteal muscles; squeezing a rubber ball to improve grip strength; and stretching the calf muscles to keep them flexible and protect the walking stride. More »

A word about balance

Imbalance is a leading cause of falls. It occurs when the system that provides balance information to your brain breaks down. Input comes from five balance organs in each ear (three that detect rotational movements and two that detect linear movement), vision, muscles, and joints. Obesity, vision problems, peripheral neuropathy in people with diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, medications, multiple joint replacement, and inner ear problems can all cause imbalance. Addressing those issues, exercising, and getting physical therapy can help improve balance. (Locked) More »

Review your home with this anti-falling checklist

Falls are a leading cause of injury death among older Americans. Reducing the amount of trip hazards in the home can help prevent falls. Search each room in the home and eliminate or fix floor clutter, loose throw rugs and carpeting, broken floorboards, burned-out or missing light bulbs and lamps, and loose wires and cables. It’s also important to add grab bars and anti-slip mats in bathrooms, and rearrange furniture if it blocks any pathways. (Locked) More »

Maintaining independence: Don't overlook foot and ankle health

Foot and ankle health are crucial to maintaining mobility and independence. Weight-bearing exercise such as walking can make bones stronger and improve stability. Stretching the hamstrings, Achilles’ tendons, and calf muscles will keep muscles and tendons flexible and better able to do their job. Weight loss, if necessary, can reduce the strain and stress on the joint. Quitting smoking will increase oxygen delivery to the tissues of the feet and toes. Finally, shoes should be wide enough to accommodate the toes, with good arch support for people with flat feet. (Locked) More »

The right shoes: The key to better health

Women’s shoes are not always kind to the feet and can inflict a range of damage, from bunions and corns to hammertoes. Ideally shoes should have a wide toe box and low heel to support and protect their feet and reduce the chance of falling. (Locked) More »