Winter is here! Most of us have stocked up on firewood, cocoa, marshmallows, and blankets as we lay in wait for all the cold weather. We’ve even turned up the heating and removed grandma’s special knitted socks from storage. And yet, winter doesn’t just mean hot drinks and snuggles, does it? It also means fun! Many of us have also reached for our ice-skates, ski’s, or snowboards as the great freeze approaches. Hooray! And because of this, we thought this would be a perfect to time to talk about a really important topic: balance. Yes, that’s right, you can’t ice-skate, ski, or even toboggan without balance, but more than that, walking correctly, stabilizing your body, or keeping your skeletal and muscular health in check without having the correct balance can be… uh hum… a bit of a tightrope act. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this post we talk all things balance, from why you need it, to what happens when you don’t have it, all the way through to how you can improve it. So, let’s get some stability on the subject, shall we?
You might be thinking, “Well, hey, my balance is pretty good – I don’t fall off of my bicycle and I can still stand on one leg if I concentrate hard enough”. And that’s all pretty great, except that’s not really the type of balance that matters. Of course, we encourage cycling and circus acts, but what we’re really worried about is the overall balance of weight distribution as you go about your daily activities. Most falls and their ensuing back, hip, neck, and ankle problems are as a result of a misstep or an inability to balance weight and muscle function correctly. Balance is more than just a fleeting moment of stability on a bicycle: it’s the continual stability of your body in its entirety so as to preserve health and wellbeing.
Let’s make that a little clearer: balance is part of absolutely everything we do whether we are conscious of it or not. The way we walk, listen, and move are all part-and-parcel of the way we are able to balance weight. Mobility depends on our ability to balance muscles correctly; spine health is dependent on an even weight distribution throughout the body during movement and periods of rest; joint health is keenly affected by how well we are able to balance during activity. If we do not have good balance, then we are likely to injure ourselves in the long run – having great balance is a bit like enjoying superior tires on your car: if one or two are low, your wheel alignment changes and your car’s overall functionality suffers.
Here are just a few benefits of excellent balance:
Ultimately, good balance is directly linked to health and quality of life. That’s great news, right? Absolutely! If, that is, you maintain stability. What happens, then, if you don’t keep an eye on your balance? As you age, your ability to balance decreases and, thus, your health follows suit in various ways. As balance ability declines, so too does the health of your muscles, bones, and general wellbeing. Falls, hip problems, back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, and even headaches are sure to follow. One of the leading causes of serious injury and/or death are falls… unfortunately, most of them are as a result of impaired balance. Luckily, flawed balance doesn’t rear its ugly head overnight: there are warning signs you can look out for. Here they are:
If the above seems all too close to home, don’t fear – we’re here to help. Take a look at some tips for how to get back on – and stay on – your feet in order to be a more stable, healthier you:
A strong, balanced, body is essential this winter: don’t let poor balance stop you from heading out there. Give us a call today and find out how we can help you get back to being strong and stable on your feet. One of our dedicated, professional physical therapists can’t wait to chat. Pull on your ice-skates, jump on your ski’s, and let’s get ready for an icy, balanced, injury-free winter!
Dr. Jack Wong
Leading Physical Therapist In The Kingwood Area