Balance Awareness Week is September 12-18, and Fall Prevention Awareness Day will be observed on September 22. These events give us a chance to recognize the challenges that people with vestibular disorders face, and to encourage those who have dizziness or balance problems to gather more information and seek the help of a vestibular specialist.
Balance is an athletic skill that must be challenged and practiced to keep it sharp. Often people attribute a decline in balance to “normal aging,” but frequently these declines can be reversed with training and exercise!
The challenge to improving balance is to safely and consistently practice exercises to sharpen your balance system and build strength.
Some tips for improving balance:
Practicing standing still with your eyes closed forces the balance system to work without the benefit of visual cues. It makes things a lot harder, but gets better quickly with practice! The key is to stand is a safe place, don’t risk a fall while trying to work on balance. Stand with your back to a corner and the back of a chair in front of you. This is especially important when eyes are closed.
Practice moving your head in all directions, and work up to moving quickly. If this makes you dizzy, don’t give up on it! Consult with a vestibular physical therapist to help you figure out the appropriate exercises. Avoiding movement might feel better, but will probably make things worse.
What have you done lately to build your strength? Weakness is a major and underappreciated cause of poor balance. If you aren’t currently doing strengthening work or exercises, then you are getting weaker.
If this sounds intimidating or you aren’t sure what to do, come see a physical therapist! We can get you started on the right track.
Rebound Physical Therapy Bend, Oregon