We have been living in the time of a pandemic!  We have been staying at home.  We have limited our outings and errands and any social or sporting activities.  We are all, likely, feeling a little out of routine and out of sorts.  And, frankly, nothing seems “normal”.  However, as expected, the season has changed and it’s springtime!  It is time to get outdoors and move!  Are you ready for gardening, the stooping and bending on the uneven terrain of your yard, or daily walking in the neighborhood or off-road trails in our parks and Open Spaces?

More clearly, is your balance system ready to take on Spring?  Our balance system is made from the sensory organs of the vestibular, proprioception, and visual systems.  They coordinate with our central nervous system and our musculoskeletal system to give us balance.  Sensory input from sight, touch and motion/equilibrium integrate with the motor output of the body’s muscles. This is what helps us sustain our balance during activities such as when walking in a dark environment, stepping on uneven ground, or while walking when looking up at a bird in the sky.  It is remarkable that this usually happens without much thought or conscious effort.   However, if any component of balance is out of tune, the whole system can be out of tune.

Below are suggested exercises, easily performed at home, that can help tune your balance.

Standing balance:

  1. Find a safe place in your home, perhaps in a corner or near a countertop or banister railing.
  2. Place your feet in a narrow position: like feet 2-3 inches apart or with ankles touching, staggered ½ step with shoes touching, heel-toe or tandem position, or even on one leg.
  3. Try standing still, holding our balance, and gradually let go of the surface.
  4. To make this more challenging, you might want to close your eyes, or turn your head back and forth and look around your room.
  5. Try all of this while standing on a pillow.
  6. To make up your own version, you can manipulate any of three variables that includes the standing position, the visual input (eyes open, closed, or looking around), and the surface (firm, soft, cushions

Moving balance:

  1. Walk a “tight-rope” by walking in a heel-toe position down a hallway
  2. Walk while turning your head left and right as if to scan the room around you
  3. Walk backwards
  4. Lunges in place, or walking lunges

Do these within your own comfort zone and ability.  For example, if it feels easy and you are relaxed and stable in your posture, then try to change a variable or close your eyes.  If you cannot get into the position without holding on, the position might be too challenging and is a risk to try on your own. If you can get into the position yet feel a bit wobbly and manage by gently or intermittently holding on; the difficulty is just right for a successful challenge.  Adding a variety of these balance exercises into your daily routine, even 2 days per week, can make a difference and help you feel more balanced and confident!

 

Keep going.  Keep your balance.  Have a happy Spring!

 

–From the Vestibular and Balance Physical Therapist Team at Rebound

Find Your Balance 

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