Keeping your balance

What does it mean for me?

Balance is an integral part of how we live our lives. A reduction in balance can impact your ability to stay fit and active, play sports or keep up with the grandkids. One in four Australians over the age of 65 will experience a fall that can result in significant injury, often due to poor balance reactions.

To maintain your upright status the body makes use of information gained from various parts of the body, such as your eyes, ears, muscle & joint position and skin. Information from these systems are taken to the brain which interprets the new changing situation and works out how to maintain equilibrium. The muscular system then works to increase tension around a joint, bringing the body back into a stable position.

Systems involved in Balance

Your eyes are a core component of maintaining your balance. They directly show you which way is up using references to the horizon and vertical structures such as walls or trees. If the brain then notices that we are leaning away from an upright stance, it notifies the muscles to either straighten the head or lean the body back in line.

Yours ears provide information of your head position in space through the use of fluid filled canals, which have small particles floating in them. The movement of these particles tell the brain the position of your head. These particles can sometimes end up in the wrong section of the ear and give a false reading of head position, resulting in the condition known as vertigo. This can often be remedied through physiotherapy treatment.

Your muscles play the biggest role in keeping us standing as they are the movers of the bones and joints. In addition to this, your tendons and ligaments work together with the muscles and bones to create the sense known as proprioception. This sends information on the position of each limb to the brain, which automatically results in muscle activation to ensure you put your foot in the right place at the right time.

Your skin has receptors that tell you how much pressure is being applied to your foot and therefore how much muscle strength is needed, for example, while walking up or down stairs.

While your balance will generally decline as you get older, it doesn’t have to! Book online with Trish Starling and the Boost Your Balance workshops and help keep your balance strong.