It’s the time of year when rain, snow and ice remind us that our balance might not be as solid as we thought. Have you ever wondered what control’s our ability to maintain balance and what can improve it? The answer is not as simple as you may think.
There are three systems that work together to keep us balanced; the visual system, vestibular system and somatosensory system. Improving the function of these three systems with easy exercises can help you improve your steadiness on your feet. For example..
Visual System: The ability to see clearly plays a huge role in balance. Make sure your eye ware prescription is up to date so you maintain the best depth perception possible. Yearly screens for cataracts and glaucoma are also beneficial.
Vestibular System: This system is responsible for telling you where your head is in space. To challenge this system you must close your eyes to take away assistance from the visual system. This is often why older adults are often unsteady at night, when they cannot rely on their vision. Standing with your feet together and eyes closed (near a stable surface for safety) for 20-30 seconds at a time can help address this.
Somatosensory System: This system tells your brain where your joints are in space. To challenge this system, an unstable surface is required. Standing on a soft surface such as a pillow or foam for 20-30 seconds at a time will challenge this system.
When all three of these systems are sharpened and working together, the likelihood of falling is reduced!