Balance exercises are types of activity prescribed by a podiatrist that can improve balance, mobility and are a useful form of treatment in the prevention of falls.
What are balance exercises?
Balance exercises are a set of exercises which are used in the treatment plans of patients who have poor balance due to factors such as injury and age. They can also be used as a preventative measure of injury and can be an effective aspect of rehabilitation following injury to the lower limb. There are various different balance exercises that a podiatrist can prescribe which will be specific to the patient and their requirements.
How can balance exercises help?
Balance exercises can be helpful with regards to the following factors;
- Falls prevention ' poor balance in the elderly is a significant problem and is a common cause of falls within this age group. Decreased activity as a person ages can lead to weak, rigid muscles resulting in poor function, limited range of movement and poor balance. Balance exercises can work to improve these factors
- Injury prevention ' exercises can be prescribed which improve muscle strength and stability to prevent injuries during activities such as sport
- Ankle strengthening ' balancing exercises are effective at strengthening the ankles to either prevent or treat injury
How do balance exercises work?
Balance exercises work to improve an individual's strength and stability in order to prevent injury or falls. When an individual's balance is compromised, everyday activities such as walking and using the stairs can become difficult putting them at greater risk of injury or falling. Balance exercises can improve three areas;
- Core strength ' when the core muscles are weak, the body works in a less effective way, meaning other muscles have to work harder to compensate which can lead to injuries occurring. Balance exercises improve core stability by strengthening these muscles, therefore reducing the risk
- Joint stability ' balance exercises can support the body's reactions in unstable environments, causing the correct muscles to contract at the right times. This can be effective when preventing falls in the elderly
- Body awareness ' the system which links the brain and the body allowing a person to recognise the position and movement of the limbs without looking, is known as proprioception. Balance exercises can help to restore this system if it is damaged, supporting coordination and balance
What are the benefits of balance exercises?
There are many benefits associated with the use of balance exercises as a form of therapy including;
- Reduces falls particularly in the elderly population
- Improves joint stability
- Improves core stability
- Provides an individual with greater control over their body's position
- Easy to carry out at home with or without equipment
Similar services/treatments that could help?
There are other treatments available to help prevent and treat injury, these include;
- Advice and education footwear advice i.e. Footwear advice
- Biomechanical assessment
- Manipulation / mobilisation
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