FAQ052: Why does my balance get worse with age?

Balance … the ability for our body’s to not fall over

Balance is something we take for granted until we recognize that we don’t have it. As we get older, our balance tends to drop. There are a couple of reasons for that. In this video, we explain a few of them.

Our balance is determined by a couple of different systems.

When we think about what keeps us standing, we have to think of at least three different systems. Our proprioception (the way our body knows where we are in space), our vestibular system in our inner ear, and our eyes. We have talked about this in a previous video which you can check out here.

As we get older, some of these systems start to lose efficiency.

For one thing, our reaction time goes down. Our reaction time is what we need to stay upright when something tries to make us fall (sometimes that is our own feet!). Reaction time is determined by the speed of the connection from your brain to your muscle. It’s involuntary. Our body does it automatically. As we get older though, this speed slows down.

As we get older, we rely more on our eyes.

I’m not sure the reason for this, but as we get older, we rely more on our eyes to tell us where we are and what to do to not fall. The problem is that our eyes begin to decline as we get older. We just don’t see as well. I’m sure many of you can attest to this if you need cheaters or the text on your phone needs to be just a little bit bigger!

Another part of reaction time is strength.

In order for us to react, our bodies need to be strong enough to do it. Our body tells us to react but we need the prerequisite amount of strength to do so.

All of these things place a part. So what can you do?! Strengthen your muscles and challenge you balance! It is so important.

Check out the video and let us know what you think. Do you need help with your balance? Physiotherapists can get you on the right exercise program to improve.

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Christina Prevett

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