230322 9 simple ways to improve your balance 3/4

230322 5 Review Your Medications

About the Author Dr. Luke Gordon My name is Luke Gordon, and I’m a Doctor of Physical Therapy and owner of Gordon Physical Therapy (an outpatient physical therapy clinic in Spokane Valley). In my 13+ years of working as a physical therapist,

I’ve had the opportunity to help hundreds of people improve their balance and reduce the likelihood of having a fall. Many of these people have had issues with their balance for months (if not years), and they’re afraid about the potentially life-altering effects of having a fall. Whether they’re trying to avoid their first fall, or they’ve already experienced multiple falls, the ultimate goal is the same: to remain as active and independent as possible.

I’ve had the opportunity to help hundreds of people improve their balance and reduce the likelihood of having a fall. Many of these people have had issues with their balance for months (if not years), and they’re afraid about the potentially life-altering effects of having a fall. Whether they’re trying to avoid their first fall, or they’ve already experienced multiple falls, the ultimate goal is the same: to remain as active and independent as possible.

Have you ever noticed that one of the most commonly listed side effects on most medications is “may cause dizziness or lightheadedness”? If you take several medications, it’s very possible that one or many of them are causing you to feel dizzy or lightheaded. In addition, medications often interact with each other in negative ways, and this could be affecting your balance as well.

If you haven’t already done so recently, plan to speak with your physician or pharmacist about your medications soon. Ask questions about which ones might be affecting your balance, and also ask if all of your medications are still necessary. If you’ve been making positive changes in your life, you might just be ready to get rid of or cut down on some of your medications. You never know until you ask!

6. Exercise Regularly Even if you have limited abilities when it comes to your balance, you’ll want to engage in regular bouts of exercise in order to keep your muscles strong, improve your endurance and improve your bone density. Some excellent ways to keep your body fit and limber include the following:

Resistance training with weights or exercise bands: resistance training has been proven to help improve your muscle strength as well as your bone density. Perform these exercises in standing if you can do so safely. And if not, many of these exercises can be performed in sitting, so balance won’t be a concern. Either way, improving your muscle strength will help you improve your balance.

Stretching and Yoga: keeping your joints flexible is key to good balance, especially when it comes to your ankles, hips and lower back. Yoga is an excellent way to stretch the muscles and joints throughout your body, while also working on improving muscle tone and coordination.

Walking and Hiking: going for a walk is one of the best ways to keep your body in shape and to improve your balance. If you don’t have a walking partner and don’t feel like walking alone, there are typically walking groups that you can join (in Spokane Valley there are the “Valley Striders” for example). And if you really want to challenge yourself, you can always consider hiking, which requires more strength to go up and down hills and also requires more balance when you’re on uneven surfaces.

7. Check Your Eyesight

Your body has 3 primary balance systems that all work together to give you optimal balance. These systems include your vision, your sensation and spatial awareness (we call this “proprioception”) and your inner ear. Over time, many people become visually dominant in regards to their 3 balance systems. And while you don’t want to be so reliant on your vision to keep you in proper balance, having good vision will be essential to help you maintain your balance and avoid falls, especially as you work to improve the other 2 balance systems.

If you have any difficulty with your vision, now is a great time to get your eyes checked. Even if you already wear prescription glasses, you’ll want to make sure that your eyesight hasn’t changed recently.

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