Why do I have Poor Balance?
To understand why you have poor balance we first need to understand how the body maintains balance. Our brain takes information from three systems to in order to sense our position in space:
- Vestibular System – The balance system of the inner ear
- Proprioceptive System – The ability to sense the position we are in
- Visual System – The things we see
As long as all the information from these three systems lines up, you will have a good sense of your position. The brain will then send impulses down to the muscles telling them to contract or relax in a very specific and sophisticated manner. This will position all of our skeleton in the way our brain wants it.
What causes Poor Balance?
The process of maintaining balance described above has both an input and an output. The input is the information from those three systems that the brain looks at to determine our position. The output is the signals the brain sends to the muscles to move the skeleton.
If you have problems with the input or the output you can have trouble with your balance. When you have input problems you are getting faulty information from one of those three systems mentioned above. This can produce poor balance or dizziness (LINK). Problems with the output side of the process are things like weak muscles or stiff joints. These are more mechanical type problems.
Unfortunately, as we age both the input and the output side of this balance process tend to get worse. On the input side we see a gradual decline in our vision, the balance organ of the inner ear becomes less sensitive and our sense of position less accurate. On the output side our muscles become weaker and our joints stiffer.
How do I Improve my Balance?
Fortunately, many of these problems are reversible and respond really well to rehabilitation. Since we are talking about balance rehabilitation here we call it Vestibular Rehabilitation (LINK). Vestibular Rehabilitation involves an in-depth analysis of all of the systems mentioned so far in this article. Once we have found the specific deficits in your balance systems we will prescribe a specific rehabilitation program to address them.
Depending on your specific deficits Vestibular Rehabilitation may involve:
- Exercises to train the vestibular and visual systems to work together
- Balance training exercises
- Strengthening exercises
- Manual Therapy and Soft Tissue Mobilization to improve flexibility
Because it tackles the symptoms and the root cause, Vestibular Rehabilitation has been proven to be extremely effective in improving balance in the vast majority of cases.
If anything mentioned above rings a bell you will probably benefit from an assessment by a Physiotherapist or Athletic Therapist trained in Vestibular Rehabilitation. We can liaise with your Family Physician and help organize a referral to a specialist if required.
You do not need a referral from your Family Doctor to be assessed by a Physiotherapist or Athletic Therapist. If you would like to book an assessment please go ahead and click the link below. If you would like more information, please give us a call or fill in the contact form below.