Tips For Better Balance
Falls are a real threat to our health, especially as we age. The Institut national de la santé publique du Québec has recently published a report indicating that 19,087 seniors had to be hospitalized following a fall in 2016. Unfortunately, a significant portion of these people see their autonomy severely reduced after such an event. Focusing on fall prevention is undoubtedly one of the solutions to this real public health issue.
This includes maintaining and/or improving balance, a factor that plays a major role in fall prevention. Discover tips for developing your balance as you read on!
Aging, balance, and proprioception
Balance is inevitably affected by aging. As we age, there’s a decrease in the functioning of several systems that are closely related: the visual system, the vestibular system in the inner ear, as well as the proprioceptive system.
Proprioception is intimately linked to balance. It is a function, conscious and unconscious, by which we perceive the different parts of our body in space, allowing us to keep our balance even when we have our eyes closed or move in the dark. Muscles, bones, tendons and joint components play an essential role in proprioception by sending signals to our nervous system, allowing us to coordinate our movements.
In addition to aging, other factors can affect proprioception and, with it, balance:
- Injuries affecting muscles and different parts of the joints (sprains, torn ligaments, tendonitis, etc.);
- Diseases that affect joint health (osteoarthritis, inflammatory arthritis, etc.);
- Sedentary lifestyle caused by a lack of physical activity.
Improving balance and proprioception
To prevent falls, it is possible to work on balance from a young age. We need to focus on prevention and maintaining proprioceptive skills to prevent premature aging of the body. In addition to helping maintain or develop balance, these exercises help improve joint strength and flexibility. Joints also play a significant role in maintaining balance and preventing falls.
Several exercises can be done daily, directly at home, to improve balance and proprioception. A doctor, physiotherapist, or kinesiologist can suggest exercises that are adapted to your condition and needs. Here are a few suggestions of exercises that can be done to achieve this goal:
• Stand on one leg by lifting the knee of the other leg in front of you, and hold the position for a few seconds. Variations can be made to alter stability (e.g., lifting the arms) or to improve stability (e.g., holding the back of a chair).
• Perform the airplane position, i.e., stand firmly on one leg while lifting the other leg behind you and leaning the torso forward, so that the legs and body form a T shape. The arms can be stretched backwards, parallel to the raised leg, to help with stability.
• Exercises such as squats, lunges, or push-ups can be performed on an unstable surface (balance board, half-ball, etc.).
Physical activity to improve balance
Several types of physical activity can help develop balance and improve proprioception. These activities help develop joint strength and flexibility:
- Tai chi;
- Walking in the forest (because of the different types of surfaces and obstacles);
- Many types of stretching.
Taking supplements for joint health
As mentioned earlier, the different structures that make up the joints play a significant role in the proprioceptive system and in maintaining good balance. It is important to look after joint health, which unfortunately tends to deteriorate with age, especially with the presence of joint diseases.
Genacol products contain AminoLock Collagen, which directly benefits the health of the cartilage, ligaments and tendons that make up the joints. Since the body’s collagen production decreases as early as age 30, it may be appropriate to include supplements in your daily routine to avoid joint degradation, or to prevent problems such as osteoarthritis.
Finally, before including a new exercise regimen in your daily routine and/or taking supplements, we advise you to consult a health care professional. He or she will be able to make sure that all of this is safe for you, in addition to offering personalized advice to improve your joint health, proprioception and balance!