It makes sense that a well conditioned body should improve a person's balance and co ordination. Exercise is required as part of any body conditioning programme but what type of exercise is best? Well, this is always going to depend on the individual and their own current set of circumstances. You can rest assured we're not going to suggest tight rope walking.
What is a Balance Disorder?
Some people suffer varying degrees of balance dysfunction which can have a dramatic effect on their everyday lives, such as making them more prone to the risk of falling and suffering injury.
Balance, in this case, refers to the steadiness on foot felt by someone. Several body systems work together to allow an individual to maintain the required balance to perform everyday tasks. If just one of these systems is not functioning properly it can lead to uneasy feelings such as spinning or
There are a great many potential causes of balance disorder. These could be connected to the visual system (eyes) , systems of the ear or of the body's capacity for spacial awareness. Dysfunction in these areas sometimes develop after an injury. In most cases, treatment will require the patient to undergo specific balance training under the guidance of a physiotherapist.
Simple Balance Exercises
To start with, simply being active on your feet everyday and moving will help keep your muscles in shape and offer good balance practice for your body.
You can take this one step further. Have you ever considered making better use of your time spent waiting in the bank or shopping queues. You're often standing while waiting so why not lift one leg and balance on the other.
Worth a chuckle
You're probably chuckling to yourself at this point with visions of what you might look like standing in a busy queue with one knee raised high in front of you. Indeed, you will likely draw a few stares in such a pose. To avoid becoming the centre of attention you could simply shift your weight onto one leg without raising the other more than an inch off the floor. Much more subtle! These slight shifts in body weight will make your balance supporting muscles work harder and therefore get a mini workout.
No one's looking
If you couldn't give a hoot about others staring ( good on you!) or when you're in a more private setting, you can extend this simple movement to be more challenging. Try raising that knee as high as possible while maintain your balance on the other leg. You could also point with your toe so your leg extends in front, to the side and even behind you while balancing on one leg. The degree of extension and angle can be adjusted to make the move more or less challenging as you wish. Don't forget to swap and do equal time on each leg.
At home these simple exercises can be extended even further by standing on an unsteady surface, such as a pillow, and or by holding light hand weights in different positions simultaneously.
How does Pilates help with balance?
Pilates is a proven exercise system that focuses on balancing the muscular structure and enhancing joint stability and mobility through low impact movements. Pilates is proven to increase core strength and blood circulation, improve body awareness and coordination, and enhance posture. All these benefits will have a significantly positive effect on one's balance control.
Pilates is taught at different levels of difficulty to provide more challenging techniques for the advancing participant. Someone suffering with poor balance could benefit from a basic level Pilates class, ideally one led by a Pilates instructor who is also a Chartered Physiotherapist. A Physiotherapist would offer a higher level of professional guidance with their expertise in the mechanical functioning of the human body and their ability to make astute assessment of proper technique while considering any underlying medical conditions.
Someone suffering with a severe balance disorder must have a professional assessment, such as from a Chartered Physiotherapist, before undertaking any exercise program.