Gaining Your Sense of Balance

For the last 40 years the Redwood Empire Ice Arena here in Santa Rosa has hosted the Annual Senior World Hockey Tournament.  Unfortunately, this year it has been cancelled so that they can replace the ice rink floors.  The tournament has been a wonderful opportunity for middle-aged—and much older—ice hockey enthusiasts to compete or enjoy watching their friends play.   A game like hockey requires significant balance from all its players, which is something many older adults struggle with.  You don’t have to be a senior hockey player to want better balance, though.

Your sense of balance is crucial for your mobility and for avoiding potentially serious injuries from falling.  The risks of falling only increase as you get older, that is why balance becomes more and more vital with time.  It is a good thing, then, that you can make changes to improve your equilibrium.  Exercising and strengthening your feet, along with wearing the right shoes, can make a difference for your stability.

Try a few of these exercises for your lower limbs and sense of balance:

  • Standing on one leg – Stand on one leg without holding anything for balance.  Try to stand for 30 seconds or more before switching legs.  If that is too easy, attempt this with your eyes closed.
  • Ankle circles – Sit with your feet in front of you and rotate them clockwise at the ankles.  After 10 to 20 circles, rotate them counterclockwise.
  • Toe walking – Rise up on your toes and try to walk across a room without letting your heels touch the ground.

Make sure you invest in footwear with wide soles and have traction.  Shoes should also have a strong, stiff back and arch support to stabilize your lower limbs.  Footwear without enough support is more likely to allow bio-mechanical issues to contribute to falls.

The more you invest in your lower limbs, the more you will achieve better balance.  Adding daily exercises and choosing the right shoes isn’t difficult, but the payoff from both is huge.  If you are concerned about falls, or are not sure how to do any of these exercises, contact us at John D. Hollander, DPM, in Santa Rosa, CA. We can help you establish healthy habits.  Call (707) 578-1222 or use our online request form to reach us.