3 Things That Control Our Balance
Do you know there are three key things that work together to control your balance?
When new clients start working with me, they always say, "My balance is so bad, what actually controls my balance?" Many people don’t realize there are just three things that control our balance and many factors that can affect it.
The first thing that controls our balance is our eyes.
This is the piece we rely most heavily on in regards to our balance. If you're an aging adult, you may be noticing that the quality of your eyesight decreases as you age, that's common, but you have to keep in mind that it does affect your balance. So it is very important that you regularly have an eye exam to ensure your vision is the best it can be.
Equally as important, when you move your head around, and the eyes are moving and focusing on many things which can make it tough to balance. If you’re having a day where you feel unsteady, you can regain control by keeping your head up and looking out into the distance at something that isn’t going to move. When you do that, you steady the eyes which leads to immediate improvements in your balance.
Try it: Stand at your kitchen sink or next to the back of a chair that isn’t going to move. Hold on and lift one foot up off the floor. (Be ready to catch yourself when you lose your balance.) Close one eye and if you still have your balance, close both eyes. As the eyes closed, you probably started to lose or you lost your balance.
Now reset yourself, hold on and lift one foot off the floor. Look straight ahead and focus your eyes on something that isn’t moving in the distance. Again, the eyes are one of the 3 things that control your balance. When you focused on the non-moving object, it should have been a lot easier to balance than when you shut your eyes.
The second thing that controls your balance is fluid in your inner ears.
Try it: Stand at your kitchen sink or next to the back of a chair that isn’t going to move. Hold on and lift one foot up off the floor. (Be ready to catch yourself when you lose your balance.) Keep both eyes open and turn your head side to side like you are saying “no” a few times. Then nod your head “yes”.
As you move your head around, the fluid in the inner ear shifts, making it harder to balance. If you’re having an unsteady day, the best thing you can do is stay tall, keep your body aligned and keep the head level.
Remember the eyes and fluid in the ears are the first 2 (of 3) things that control your balance, and they work together because they are both located in the head. When you’re having a day where your balance feels out of control, focus on keeping the body upright, the eyes fixed on objects that aren’t moving, and try to keep the head level as best you can. If you do this, you’ll instantly feel steadier.
The third thing that controls your balance is sensors on your skin.
These sensors are part of the somatosensory system and they tell you where your body is in relation to space, the ground, and objects around you. In the absence of vision, we rely on the somatosensory system to keep us upright.
Try it: Stand on a hard surface such as a hardwood floor, hold onto something sturdy that isn’t going to move and try to balance. Then stand on a cushioned carpet or a foam pad. Hold onto something sturdy and try to balance. It’ll be much harder to stay upright on a soft surface than on the hardwood floor.
Now, the beautiful thing about this is balance is much like muscular strength, it can be trained to improve. A lot of people don't realize that you can train your balance to get better by practicing and working your eyes, the fluid in your ears, and the sensors on your skin that tell you where you are in relation to space.
You can increase all of those to improve your balance. And it doesn't matter how old you are, you could start today and still see improvements because you can always teach an old dog new tricks. You just need to know what steps to follow.
If you're interested in learning more about how to reclaim your balance so you can stay independent and live an active life, I’d like to invite you to join my Living Lively Community by entering your email below.
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I hope this information was helpful and look forward to seeing you in the community.
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