Balance is a key indicator of our physical health. Balance varies from one person to the next and generally deteriorates to an extent over a lifespan. Even minor changes in strength, posture, ankle range of motion, changes in the sensory systems such as vision, sensation in feet, changes in the inner ear, and reaction time affect our balance and mobility. Good balance is necessary to perform daily activities, recreational activities and is essential for engaging in an active aging lifestyle.
An Effective Balance and Mobility Program
An important objective of an effective balance and mobility program is to challenge, but not exceed the client's capabilities by systematically introducing balance and mobility tasks of increasing complexity. These activities are performed in a variety of practice environments that simulate activities encountered during daily life. Balance and mobility tasks are often incorporated as part of an overall exercise program, they can also be the main focus of an exercise programs as in the 12- week intensive program FallProof Balance and Mobility and the 6-month Stay Well At Home program.
Balance exercises are most successful when the exercises target the specific impairment or weakness that causes someone to lose balance
With a new client who is either just experiencing changes in balance or has a fall history, we conduct a Pre-Exercise Screen to determine possible impairments, weaknesses by conducting a a multi-sensory balance and mobility assessment and functional fitness assessment. As part of the pre-exercise screen, we also measure vital signs such as blood pressure and heart rate. We then carefully review our client's health and medical history, any recommendations made by their healthcare provider, and review the most recent bone density scan (if available) to check fracture risk. We then can develop a multicomponent physical activity and exercise program unique to the client, and schedule the personal training sessions.
Questions to ask yourself to determine fall risk
Changes in balance and mobility often happen slowly over time at a rate you may need realize that there is a change until a balance disturbance. Ask yourself the following questions:
Have you experienced a stumble, trip, slip, a fall or near fall with or without injury?
Do you have difficulty walking or trouble navigating through the home?
Are you holding onto the furniture while walking through your home?
Are you experiencing dizziness when getting up from bed or chair, dizziness while turning, have stiff muscles or joints?
Are you or a loved one avoiding activities because of a fear of falling and being embarrassed when losing balance?
Do you need additional training in appropriate use of a cane or walker?
There are many reasons why people fall. Even minor changes in strength, posture, ankle range of motion, changes in the sensory systems such as vision, sensation in feet, changes in the inner ear, reaction time can make a little stumble lead to a fall-related injury that can cause a wrist-, shoulder-, or hip-fracture, cuts, scrapes and bruises or more. Remember that balance exercises are most successful when the exercises target the specific impairment or weakness that causes someone to lose balance. That means that a balance exercise for one person may not be effective for another.
When you are experiencing changes in your balance it is time to determine when these balance issues happen, possible causes and make the right changes to your exercise exercise program.