Tips & Techniques

You're Never Too Young to Work On Your Balance

Dana Tress 
May 1, 2024
You're Never Too Young to Work On Your Balance

May is a fun month for us at the Balance + Concussion Center.  The week of May 19-25th is “Steps-2-Balance Week,” which is an event sponsored by the Vestibular Disorders Association (VeDA).  When thinking about this week, we wanted to dive more into the idea of balance and the concept of doing balance exercises.  Far too often, we wait until we have a problem with our balance before it is something that we address.  This month, we are going to challenge you to be proactive with your balance.  Together, let’s discuss why this is important.

Balance is the ability to maintain your center of gravity over your base of support.  In standing, your base of support is your feet.  If your center of gravity moves too far over your feet, you will stumble or fall.  Your balance system is comprised of input from your vision, vestibular system, and proprioception (sensation from your feet and neck).  Your brain receives all of this input and sends signals to your body to take an action to maintain your balance.  These actions typically start with small adjustments in the foot and ankle.  A bigger challenge to your balance will cause you to have movement at your hips.  An even bigger challenge to your balance will result in you having to take a step to avoid falling.  A problem anywhere along this chain of events will change your balance.

Now, we are not born knowing how to keep our balance.  Think of a baby learning to walk, or a child learning a new sport.  Balance is a skill that we learn and develop from the moment we are born and start working to move against the forces of gravity.  The activities that we typically do as children (like playing) are what help us to learn our balance skill.  But as we get older, we stop doing a lot of those things.  We might even take our balance for granted.  Many people do not do anything to maintain or continue to challenge their balance.  But remember, balance is a learned skill.  So it follows that “use it or lose it” concept.  Sadly, it is frequently not until an older adult falls and is injured that we then decide to work on our balance.

So, we at the Balance + Concussion Center are going to challenge you, no matter what your age is, to begin NOW working on your balance BEFORE it becomes a problem!  Some things you can try to check you own balance might be to:

  1. See if you can balance on one leg with your eyes open, keeping hands on your hips.  If that is easy, can you do this with your eyes closed?
  2. Are you able to walk heel-to-toe forward and backwards?  What about with your eyes closed?
  3. How many times can you stand up and sit down from a normal chair in 30 seconds?  If you are under the age of 65, it should be more than 14 times (coming fully up to standing, and not having back of legs touch the seat of the chair).
  4. Can you walk quickly and pivot to walk the opposite direction?
  5. Can you walk backwards?

There are many ways to test your own balance.

There are many other ways to check your balance, and we are happy to help you with that!  Working on balance now will benefit you in so many ways.  First, it can help to prevent falls from happening in the future.  Working on balance requires strength and mobility, so it is good for your entire body.  It also helps you improve your reaction time and agility, so staying active and doing the things you enjoy will remain easier for you.  And lastly, working on your balance now will help you to ensure that you stay active and independent throughout your whole life.

Consider getting your balance checked as a regular part of your annual wellness.  We can work with you to develop exercises to ensure you meet your goals and stay active.  Give us a call if you have any questions or would like to have your balance evaluated!


Meet the Author
Dana Tress, PT, MS, CEAS, AIB-CON is a physical therapist specializing in the management of concussion, balance dysfunction, headaches and dizziness in Crystal Lake, Illinois at Smith Physical Therapy Balance + Concussion Center, an award winner in concierge physical therapy services for McHenry County and surrounding regions.
You were made to move!