February 19, 2017
Balance is a complex process whereby the nervous system (the brain and its nerve pathways) selects and activates the correct muscles, with just the right timing and intensity – so that we have the best alignment and control of our bodies as we move in different directions.
At times, however, our balance reactions become inefficient or we develop compensatory movements which can lead to injury.
Often when the injury appears to be gone muscle co-ordination has still not fully recovered. So balance training becomes necessary to prevent further injury. As an example, recurring ankle strains, can be due to poor co-ordination of muscles around the ankle. So a programme of balance exercises is needed which progresses gradually from very simple, static control to more difficult and less stable positions.
Consideration must be given not only to the injured muscle or joint but to adjacent parts of the body – in the case of the ankle, there may be a weakness of the knee, the hip or as far away as the ‘core’ muscles of the spine.
Balance is important for athletes, dancers, gymnasts and people involved in recreational sports. But it is also essential in the everyday activities of walking, bending, squatting, lunging, arms reaching up, rising from sitting to standing and climbing stairs.
Balance training will be of benefit for all age groups and all activity levels. It will reduce the risk of injury from falls to which the elderly are particularly prone.
Physiotherapists can design exercise programmes suited to the different needs of each person. It may initially involve individual treatment and a home exercise programme. There is also an option for weekly exercise groups.
It is never too late to start exercising, if you or a member of your family are concerned with your safety and balance, contact us to discuss it.