This April Falls month we have been talking a lot about our balance. We have spoken about how important it is that we maintain our balance throughout our lives and improve it where we can. On our socials we have shown you different ways that to challenge it, and how to incorporate it into daily life, without the need for any specialised equipment. Now we are going to talk about what our “balance” really is.
When it comes to balance, we have three sensory components that work together to influence our balance. These being our Vestibular system, our Visual system, and our Proprioception. Now, you may or may not have heard of these terms before. Often our clients have heard of some of them but don't really understand them. So we will explain what each of them are, what they actually mean within your body, and how they work together to impact your balance?
Firstly, I like to describe them to my clients as “pillars”. With a foundation of strength they all work together to support our balance. If one of these components is disrupted, our balance as a whole gets impacted, or we put more dependence on our other “pillars”. Which can work for a while to help maintain our balance, but it will certainly leave you more vulnerable in the future.
So, what do these pillars actually do?
The first of these sensory system is our vestibular system. Found within our inner ear, this system tells our brain about our spacial orientation and head position. To put it simply our vestibular system reports if our ears are level. Which is why when people have an ear infection their balance can be affected.
An example of this in balance, is the sensors in our feet and ankles reacting to the changes in our position when standing on one leg. This is then more pronounced when we move from a stable surface to unstable as shown above. You may have felt this yourself when practicing your own balance.
Finally, our visual system is one of our most used pillars, and the one we often unintentionally over time place the most dependence on. We use the information we gather through our eyes to determine where we are in space to keep us upright and to correct any changes to our body position.
It is my belief that over the years our over reliance on our visual system allows the other two sensory systems to be detrained rather than deteriorating and therefore gives us every opportunity to retrain them.
How to improve your balance
We all need to incorporate some balance training into our everyday activities to ensure we don't detrain the pillars we need to remain upright and safe. If you are unsure of how best to challenge and improve your balance, begin by checking out our socials on facebook and instagram for some tips, or book to see one of our exercise specialists today.
The balance testing, we do here at Simply Stronger allows us to determine which “pillar” we should target to have the greatest impact or your balance.
Optimising all three of these sensory components along with improving your foundational strength gives us the best opportunity to improve our balance and reduce the risk of fall and subsequent injuries.
Simply Stronger - here to make exercise simple. Understanding why you should exercise is a giant step towards wanting to exercise.