Balance is not just something with which we are born. Balance is a sensory system that gathers information from our eyes, muscles, joints, and oddly from our ears. When someone experiences an injury such as a joint injury something happens in our body that shifts our system of balance. That something is our center of weight. Physical therapy helps to restore balance and reduce the risk of falling by addressing our center of weight. Let’s explore what that means and how Orthopedic and Balance Therapy restores balance.
Balance and Gravity
Balance is our body’s reaction to the downward force of gravity. Without good balance, we are at risk of falling. To deal with the constant force of gravity our body learns to control our center of gravity. If you are standing and you began leaning backward, how far back can you lean before you fall over? Some of us can lean back a lot and still not fall. For others, a slight lean and they lose their balance. That difference is because our body’s balance system is unique.
At Orthopedic & Balance, we work with people who need to retrain their balance system. Our goals are always to address your unique challenges so that the results focus on improving balance and preventing falls.
Injuries and Balance — It’s All about the Center of Balance
Injuries come in all shapes and sizes and they affect different parts of the body. A broken leg, sprained ankle, torn rotator cuff, total joint replacement surgery, etc., all impact how we move. Diseases such as osteoarthritis also affect how we hold our body and can cause limitations to range-of-motion and mobility. These are all examples of injuries or illnesses that impact our balance.
When you walk using crutches, your center of gravity changes. When your rotator cuff repair immobilizes your arm, your center of gravity changes. When you live with a bad knee your center of gravity changes a lot. As you favor one joint by using another more often you change the entire way that your body relates to walking, sitting, and standing. With many of these injuries or illnesses, the center of gravity becomes narrow and small. When that happens, it becomes easier to lose our balance and fall.
You Can Fix Balance and Decrease Your Risk of Falling
One of the key takeaways from the above conversation is that our center of gravity changes. As it changes it affects our balance. Even if you are having a hard time finding your balance and keeping it, we can help.
We use a variety of exercises that strengthen the relationship between the brain and the body. These include the relationship between:
- Vision and balance
- Muscle and balance
- Joints and balance
- The Vestibular system and balance (inner ear)
These are the major input sources that help our brain adjust balance. They are like a muscle. If you do not use them they become lax but with exercise and guidance they can grow strong and as they do, your balance becomes wider and stronger. In short, as you train your balance center the outcome improves fine motor skills.
The Brain Is a Complex Tool
The brain and neural network perform millions of operations per second. In order to achieve such a high level of efficiency, your brain relies on things like muscle memory. When you have an injury or you have a “bad knee” the muscle memory around that joint or extremity changes to accommodate the injury. When it is time to take off the cast or after you have surgery for a total joint replacement your brain does not remember the old ways. It relies on the new ways. Part of regaining your balance involves retraining your brain and creating new muscle “memory.” That is part of what exercise does to improve balance.
Think about a baby learning to walk. When they first pull themselves up to stand they are wobbly. After a few times, they gain confidence and their wobbly legs become steadier. Then they try to walk. It’s the same wobbliness. Then they get better. Even as adults, we retain that ability to train our brain to improve our balance and reduce our risk of falling. We refer to that part of your body as the coordinated balance system and it is totally retrainable.
Go with Your Strengths
When it comes to relearning balance, tailoring an individual plan is important. The challenges that you face are different from the challenges that everyone else faces even when those people have the same injury.
By focusing on your needs and your challenges we are better able to help you meet your healthcare goals. By understanding the deeper causes and effects of balance we are able to help people improve their mobility while decreasing their risk of falling. Our goal is always to improve the quality of life of each person we treat. That is why we make you a chief player on your healthcare team.
Balance and Dizziness Workshop
Learn to improve your balance, resolve dizziness, and prevent falling in this interactive workshop. Plus avoid the single biggest #1 mistake balance and dizziness sufferers make.
To your better balance,