Equilibrium and balance

  • Equilibrium is defined as a state of physical balance

Factors that effect equilibrium-non-modifiable

  • Age
  • Medical history
  • Previous injury

Factors that effect equilibrium-modifiable

  • Managing medical conditions, the following medical conditions may be associated with impaired balance:
    • Vertigo
    • Inner ear infections
    • Peripheral or diabetic neuropathy
    • Low blood pressure
    • Cataracts or other eye conditions that cause blurry vision

Medications can play a complicated role in the quest for balance. For instance, it is important to take prescribed medications in order to manage your health conditions, but it is also true that some medications may cause dizziness. Talk to your Dr or pharmacist about the best time to take your medications in order to limit any negative side effects.

  • Using good judgement, we are bound to make mistakes sometimes and some of those mistakes can affect our balance in a direct way.
    • Examples of errors in judgement are; misreading distance or depth, not noticing obstacles in your way, or overestimating your abilities.
    • Misjudgement can be caused by poor vision, medical conditions, or lack of focus or reduced cognitive functioning
    • You can improve focus and cognitive functioning by doing regular exercise and getting good quality sleep.
  • Strengthening muscles and joints, strength is a balance factor we have a great deal of influence over
    • Keeping the muscles of the hip and core strong and stable will reduce the likelihood of trips and falls and can reduce pain associated with muscular imbalance.
    • Muscular balance in the upper back, neck, chest and shoulders will improve your posture and reduce the likelihood of pain associated with poor posture and or shoulder impingement.
  • Training proprioception, proprioception refers to the perception or awareness of the position and movement of the body.
    • Proprioception relies on messages sent between specialized neurons in your muscles, joint and tendons
    • Proprioception allows us to close our eye and still touch our nose or ear
    • Specialized balance exercise such as the single leg stand help to train proprioception.

Consequences of imbalance

  • Falls can occur when a weak muscle ‘gives out’, or our body’s inability to respond quick enough to right our self from a trip, poor judgement and most often a combination of those reasons
  • Injury and pain can be direct (as a result of a fall) or indirect from poor muscular stability and balance in a particular joint or opposite muscle groups

Examples of muscular imbalance

  • If muscles around the outer aspect of your hip are weak it can affect your pelvic alignment; which can lead to a ‘hip hiking’ action when walking or stepping.
  • If the muscles of the front and back of the hip are imbalanced your pelvic alignment from to back can be altered leading to pain and or gait changes.
  • If the muscles of your abdomen are stronger than your back you will be prone to low back pain.
  • If muscles of the upper back and neck are weak and your chest muscles are stronger or tight you are prone to a head forward shoulder rounded posture.
  • Over time adapted movements can make muscular imbalances even greater and lead to gait and postural changes and pain.

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