Good balance is essential for all sporting activities, particularly those involving quick change in direction.
Many injuries including ankle sprains and knee ligament injuries damage the joint proprioceptors responsible for providing the feedback that ensures good balance. Specific balance re-education is required following these injuries to rehabilitate the proprioceptors. Failure to do this rehabilitation results in a “clumsy” joint, where the sports person is likely to re-injure due to insufficient balance. Recurrent ankle sprains are often caused by proprioceptive damage compromising balance.
Balance Rehabilitation for return to sport can involve:-
- Balance board and aerodisc activities
- BOSU for high level balance
- Fitball exercises
- Sports specific and change in direction drills
Balance in the Senior Years
Balance tends to reduce as we advance in age.
Several factors can contribute to this, including:-
- Reduced muscle strength and endurance
- Joint stiffness especially trunk and lower limbs
- Reduced flexibility
- Decreased reaction time
- Visual impairment
- Vestibular disturbance
- Low blood pressure
Reduced balance increases the likelihood of falls. These can result in significant injury particularly in the presence of osteoporosis.
Common injuries from falls in older age include:-
- Fractured wrist – usually from a fall on an outstretched hand.
- Rotator cuff tear – often from a fall where force is transmitted up the arm to the shoulder.
- Fractured hip (neck of femur) – usually from a fall on the outside aspect of the hip.
- Compression fractures of the vertebrae – when significant force is place on the spine.
Prevention of falls is a high priority for health and well-being in seniors. This involves identification of the causes or potential causes of falls and provision of a tailor-made exercise programme to address these causes.
Your programme can include exercises to:-
- Increase the strength of your buttock and thigh muscles for ease of negotiating slopes and stairs.
- Functional drills to improve sit to stand mobility and ensure safe walking.
- Stretches to improve the flexibility of tight muscles such as hamstrings and calves.
- Activities to improve your balance and ability to reach safely beyond your centre of gravity.
- Exercises to increase joint and spinal mobility.
- Core stability exercises to improve trunk stability.