What we’ll cover
Regardless of age, it has been shown that specific exercises can improve balance and reduce the risk of falling. In this blog, our physiotherapist Jason Lee identifies factors that may affect your balance and what you can do to reduce your likelihood of falling.
Balance relies on a number of body systems to be working well together. This includes our visual system and inner ear (vestibular system). Based on information received by these systems, our brain sends messages to your muscular system to respond accordingly. Importantly, this reflex and system can be improved with regular practice.
What affects balance?
Many things can affect balance and increase the likelihood of falling.
- Conditions that may affect your eyesight or inner ear
- Cardiac disease
- Medication side effects including dizziness or interactions with other medications.
- Reduced strength and power
- Reduced mobility
- Fear of falling
How can I prevent the likelihood of falling?
If you or your loved ones have experienced recent falls, it is important to consider discussing this with your GP or health professional.
It is important to stay as active and as fit as possible. We know that regular exercise helps to maintain and improve muscular strength. Importantly, weight bearing exercise also assists to maintain bone density which prevents the likelihood of developing osteoporosis which may increase the likelihood of fracture associated with falls.
Other considerations including checking your eyes and hearing. Subtle changes in vision or inner ear can increase the likelihood of falling.
Discuss your medication with your GP or pharmacist. Some medication can cause side effects including dizziness. If you have recent changed to medication and noticed increased side effects such as dizziness or sleepiness, speak to your GP or pharmacist.
Environmental factors such as the home can also contribute. Considerations can include lighting areas such as the bathroom or the hallway. Carefully monitor uneven surfaces such as rugs, electrical cords or steps within the household. Wearing appropriate fitting footwear can also decrease the likelihood of falling.
How can physiotherapy help with balance?
Your physiotherapist is well placed to thoroughly assess your balance. They will perform a range of balance and strength tests to assess your likelihood of falling an identify any factors that may contribute to your unsteadiness.
Following a thorough assessment, your physiotherapist will design a specific exercise program for your needs. These exercises can be performed on a daily basis but it is encouraged to do these exercises for a minimum duration of two to three times weekly over at least six weeks.
Malvern East Physiotherapy has a range of exercise programs within the clinic including our program designed to maintain functional strength and balance for older adults.
Balance exercises to try at home?
Feel free to try these balance exercises outlined in the video at home:
- Tight rope walking – Walk heel to toe forwards and backwards.
- Flamingo – Standing on one leg. Lift one leg up towards your chest aiming to achieve 90 degrees at the hip and the knee.
- Alternating punches – Standing on one leg. Punch a light weight across your body alternating left and right.
If you or your loved ones have experienced a fall, contact our team at Malvern East Physiotherapy. Book online or call us and book an appointment with our experienced team of physiotherapists.