WHAT IS BALANCE?

WHAT IS BALANCE?

The dictionary defines balance as: 

  • an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady 
  • put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall 
  • an instrument for weighing 
  • an oscillating wheel operating with a hairspring to regulate the movement of a timepiece 
  • physical equilibrium 

Perhaps you have also heard people say things such as, “My balance has always been bad”, or “Poor balance is a part of getting old”, or even “I am thinking about getting a stick now that my balance is so bad” 

 
So in your context, what is balance? 

Maintaining ones balance depends on the following 3 processes happening: 

  1. Your sensory system accurately portraying information on your body’s position in its environment  –  Hearing, vision and touch (such as our feet on the floor) 
  2. Your brain processing that information  –  Neurons, sensory receptors in the brain and the decision making centres. 
  3. Your muscles and joints coordinating movement based on the information your brain gives them  –  Being able to contract and relax to move how you want to. 

These 3 factors are usually an automatic process for our body, and so when we feel our balance worsening, we need to explore which of these steps are not working how they should. 

Most of the time, poor balance is a combination of a few factors, each adding a little bit to our instability. It is important to explore each of these factors and see which are lacking. Most of the time our balance problems can be anticipated and corrected if we know what to look out for. 
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Are you at risk of falling?

Are you at risk of falling?

Improved health care has lead to an unprecedented growth in the older population and soon there will be more adults over 65 than children under 5 years of age. However, the incidence of falls is also increasing and fall injuries are now among the 20 most expensive medical conditions.

As seen in the image above, 1 in 3 individuals over the age of 65 falls once a year, and of those who fall, half will fall recurrently. By the age of 80 the proportion of older adults who fall annually increases to 50%. Falls lead to morbidity and mortality and can have serious implications on the individual as well as on the global population.

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