Many people take good balance for granted. When in your twenties, balance is at it’s peak. Once you hit your thirties, balance begins decline, and takes a sharp decline in your sixties. There are five main causes of balance problems:
1. Prescription drugs
2. Neuropathy (numbness cause from nerve damage, often from diabetes)
3. Poor vision
4. Weakness from inactivity
5. Inner ear problems
These are just a few of the main causes, fortunately there are steps that can be taken to help improve your balance. First, go through all your prescription medication and find out which ones may cause dizziness or imbalance. Talk to your doctor about cutting back on, quitting, or switching these prescription drugs. Then, if you have an inner ear problem, see a good HEENT doctor to address the issue. There are many good medical professionals that have focused their practice on these issues. If you do not have someone, call my office if you need any balance issues to be addressed, specifically, there are doctors locally that I refer to if you do not have one.
Next, there are exercises that can be taught to help strengthen muscles and reconnect signals from the brain to the body in order to encourage coordination. We do this Weight lifting is a great way to combat muscle weakness. It will also help those with balance problems caused by diabetes to address high blood sugar. Bosu balance training is another great way to strengthen muscles needed for balance. A Bosu is a dome-shaped inflated ball. You stand on this unstable surface and perform exercises (instructions and video come with the Bosu) that force your body to use muscles needed for balance that are not always used in typical day-to-day activites.
Lastly, there is a type of exercise called cross-crawl. It mimics the motion of crawling that we all do as infants. Crawling helps the nervous system develope coordination before you are able to walk. Cross-crawl helps reconnect signals in the nervous system and improve balance and coordination. This is a great exercise for those with balance problems and those who have been involved in accidents that have effected their nervous system. Here is what you do: Lie on you back facing straight up, raise your right arm above your head and left knee up toward your chest together at the same time, return both your right arm and left leg to your sides synchronously, then repeat the same motion on the opposite side. Complete 25 cycles of this cross-crawl exercise twice daily.
Dr. Demetri Meimaris, 31 Mercer Street, Suite 1A, Hackensack, New Jersey, 07601 (201) 487-3131