Recently, we had a client come in who was experiencing issues with balance. It reminded me of the time we had great fun in the clinic.
We held our “Better Balance and Less Falls” event for anyone who wanted to come in and put their balance to the test, and for anyone who has noticed they’re feeling unsteady on their feet lately.
During the event we did a lot of fun activities like playing a game of ‘one-legged darts’, and the ‘can you walk in a straight line?’ test, to find out just how steady (or just how wobbly) everyone was on their feet.
And you’ll never guess what happened, out of the 8 people who came in, all of them said this…
“I didn’t realize my balance was THAT bad!…”
And it’s true! Most of us rarely realize we have a problem with our balance until it’s pointed out and made obvious to us.
Even though not all of us have superhuman balance like gymnasts and ice skaters, we need a certain level of balance to help us in our daily activities without falling over and hurting ourselves.
So I wanted to share the most common signs and symptoms to look out for, when it comes to wobbly balance and an increased risk of falls…
One of the most common ones is ‘dizziness’.
Everyone has a dizzy spell now and then, but the word ‘dizziness’ may mean something different to different people.
For some people dizziness might be a fleeting sensation of spinning. While for others it feels intense and lasts a long time.
If you find yourself feeling as though the room is spinning around you…
If you feel as though you’re moving even when you’re sitting or standing still…
And if you feel lightheaded and experience faint spells frequently…
It’s a good sign you have a balance problem.
Another sign that a lot of people brush to the side as just a part of getting older, or sitting at a desk all day, is poor posture.
The muscles in your core and lower back work together to hold your spine and pelvis in place.
If these muscles are weak, your body will be unstable, and you won’t be able to stand steadily for more than a short period of time.
Instead, you’ll look slouched and slumped over, which in turn will strain your muscles.
And if because of poor posture you find yourself having to lean on things like the grocery cart, or the stair case to help you move around – there’s a good chance you need to work on your balance.
Low back pain is also a sign that your balance is slowly getting worse.
The back and core help support the body and keep you standing tall, but if the muscles are weak and your back isn’t straight, then your back will be in pain.
And believe it or not, low-back pain can be brought on by bad balance and a weak core.
In fact, all of them go hand in hand together!
Something else we hear a lot of our clients say, is that they have to rely on their husband or wife to help them get around the house. And because of that they even lack the confidence to leave the house incase they feel a bit unsteady and ‘slip’ in front of people….
…Or worse, have no one there to help them get back up!
We even had one lady tell us that she fell over in the grocery store a few days prior, and that she was embarrassed because she was alone and had no one there to help her, so she has to ask her husband to do the grocery shopping for her now.
There’s lots of little signs that your balance is off, and although some are more extreme than others like falling over unexpectedly and feeling worried to leave the house…
Some are a lot more subtle, but if you notice and act on them quick, you can help lessen the risk of falls and get better balance.
Everyone came to our event not knowing how bad their balance really was until we helped them find out.
If you’d like a Discovery Session to test your balance, or, if you’re worried about someone you know falling over, forward this blog post to them to come in for a Discovery Session.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kim Gladfelter, MPT, OCS, FAAOMPT
Women's Health Physical Therapy Specialist at PhysioFit Physical Therapy & Wellness
Kim Gladfelter is a physical therapist, Pilates instructor, educator, author, and co-founder of PhysioFit Physical Therapy & Wellness. She is known as a keen, well-rounded expert of healing through movement and women’s health specialist in the Silicon Valley area.
Kim has helped men and women of all ages to stay active and feel their best. She also writes about managing pain in her health columns, blogs and the local Los Altos Town Crier newspaper as well as reaches out to the local community, support groups, schools, libraries, and sports centers to advise and educate on body awareness and therapeutic exercise.