FAQ044: What makes up our ability to stay balanced?

Balance can be a complicated thing to understand

There is a lot that goes into our balance. Processes that we don’t even think about most of the time. But when our balance becomes impaired, we realize just how important it is in our day to day lives.

Balance is composed of three processes that are happening all at once and work together. Those three processes are our vision, our proprioception and our vestibular system.

Our Vision

What our eyes see give us a lot of information about our world. It tells us if there are things in the way. Helps make sure we don’t trip or slam into things. As we get older, we rely on our vision more and more for our balance. It is one of the main ways we keep ourselves on the right path. Vision includes things like depth perception, contours and obviously, where things are located. It’s super important for balance.

Our Proprioception

Proprioception comprises of receptors that are inside our joints. They tell our bodies where it is in space. The best example is when we are going up stairs. Our eyes tell us that the step is 6 inches tall. It tells our knee to bend so that you can clear a 6 inch step. Our proprioceptors tell our brain that he have lifted our knee enough so we don’t trip on the step. From this perspective, they are extremely important for our balance.

Our Vestibular System

Our vestibular system is a tough one to explain. It is located in our inner ear. This system explains movement and motion. How do we sit in a car that is moving but don’t feel like everything inside the car is a blur? That is our vestibular system. It uses crystals to sense movement and motion. Then it integrates with what our eyes are seeing to figure out what is happening in the world around us. It is a really complicated system.

For people who have experienced vertigo, they understand how important our vestibular system is for our balance.

All of these three components work together and are super important to our day-to-day lives (even if sometimes we take it for granted).

Anyways, enjoy the video!

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Christina Prevett

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