Do I Have Good Balance?
By Tiffany Wink, DPT
Balance may not be something you think much about until one day you notice you are stumbling more often. You might have a fall, or you find yourself grabbing onto furniture around the house. You thought you had good balance, but what happened? Balance is comprised of 3 systems: input from your inner ear, vision, and the nervous system with input from the nerves in your joints. Age, injury, change in your vision, vertigo, and other health issues can contribute to a decline in your stability.
Why is Having Good Balance Important?
The quick answer, having good balance is important in our day-to-day life for tasks as simple as putting our pants on to get dressed and walking around the house. We also need good balance for activities such as bending over to reach an object on the floor, getting in and out of the bath, and walking on uneven surfaces such as walking in the grass.
How Do I Test My Balance?
There are a few simple tests you can perform at home to test your balance. When doing these tests make sure you be safe such as standing close to a counter to be able to regain your stability with your arms if needed. As you try these tests the first three progressively get hard, if you are unable to perform number 1 do not proceed to number 2.
- While standing close to a counter or table for safety, place your feet together, and without holding on see how long you can maintain your balance. You should be able to stand with your feet together for at least 30 seconds.
- While standing close to a counter or table for safety, stand with one foot in front of the other so the heel of the right foot is to touch the toes on the left foot. Then without holding on see how long you can hold this position. Then switch feet so the left foot is in front. You should be able to this position for 30 seconds.
- While standing close to a counter or table for safety, stand on one foot without holding on. Try on the right foot and the left foot. You should be able to stand on one foot for 30 seconds.
Another simple test for balance is the Timed Up and Go. For this test, you need a stopwatch, a chair, and something to mark 10 feet in front of the chair. Start by sitting in the chair. When you start the stopwatch you will stand from the chair, walk to the 10 feet mark, turn around, walk back to the chair, then sit down and stop the stopwatch. If you have good balance you should be able to complete this in 14 seconds or less.
How do I Improve my Stability & Safety?
If you tried these tests and were unable to do them or have had recent falls due to poor balance there are things you can do to help improve your stability. A physical therapist is trained to know what exercises and activities will help you. Ask your doctor for a referral to physical therapy and begin your road to having good balance. JOI has 12 Rehab locations in NE FL. REHAB LOCATIONS
To schedule an appointment at one of our rehab locations call JOI-2000, schedule online, or click the link below