At Raleigh Orthopaedic, we treat an assortment of issues dealing with everything from musculoskeletal sports injuries and joint replacements to concussion management. Several of those ailments stem from unavoidable conditions, however there is one crucial skill needed to avoid several common injuries that we treat on a daily basis—balance.
It’s common for our doctors to hear, “I used to be able to do _____ and can’t anymore.” Often times, people simply accept their poor balance. Our older patients, in particular, accept their weak balance, because it’s been a limitation throughout their lifetime. Falling, a health issue easily improved by better balance, is commonly treated at our clinic. Once patients become fearful of falling, they inadvertently create a cycle of anxiety and avoidance, which increases their risk of falling again.
While balance is regarded as a problem for seniors, it is a problem for people of all ages. But with practice, it doesn’t have to be. Focusing on balance at a young age may prevent injuries as an adult, but you’re never too old to work on balance and stability.
Balance employs the vision, vestibular and proprioception systems working together for one common goal. The vestibular system acts as a sensory system providing equilibrium. The proprioception system acts as sensory nerve endings guiding information concerning body movement. Each system can be trained through physical therapy, where deficits can be enhanced or eliminated with continual practice. Single-leg and multi-directional exercises are crucial balance and core stabilization exercises that can be practiced right at home. Something as simple as standing on one leg can correlate to stride strength, walking speeds, and strengthening a wider base of support. Balance training is instrumental in managing conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Balance is an integral part of our daily life. Everything from walking to taking the stairs involves having a good balance. Perhaps the most important benefit of balance for our patients is preventing falls that may lead to more serious injuries, such as broken bones or a concussion. To combat this issue, we offer a variety of classes aimed to improve common balance issues.
We offer balance, tai chi, and Joints in Motion classes, which teach patients to be aware of their surroundings and stay attentive to their movements. We’ve just added our Stretch and Strength Fusion class, focusing on strengthening core muscles to improve balance and reduce back pain. Our patients report a stronger core, clearer sense of self-awareness and decreased fear of falling after taking these classes. For more information on how to participate in our balance classes, please call (919) 863-6834 or email CORE@raleighortho.com .