Balance : Cannot be improved by wearing a wrist band | Total Performance Physical Therapy

Balance : Cannot be improved by wearing a wrist band

March 2, 2012

It amazes me that a now bankrupt company still has its loyal followers.  I want their marketing team because that is all they have, expert marketers, not a product that works.  I’m talking about the bands that sold at $20 a pop and promised to help with balance.  We saw professional athletes wearing them and claiming how wonderful they were and helped their balance.  Now that the company has filed for bankruptcy, the number of athletes singing the magnificence of the band has severely diminished.  Because at the end of the day, balance cannot be found in a band, you have to train balance, just like you have to train every other muscle in your body and yes it is that important.

Most people when they think of balance and training balance picture their 90 year old grandmother who can’t walk real well and has poor balance.  But this is not the case.  Most of us have poor balance.  Some of us recognize it and brush it off like it is some sort of genetic defect.  I hear all the time that “oh I have bad balance, always have, can’t change it”.  The truth is yes you can and you should whether you are a high level athlete or just a regular person trying to walk around you need to work on balance.  And the nice part is you can work on it anywhere at any time.  For more information on physical therapy services head to www.totalperformancept.com.

A quick way to test your balance is to stand on one foot.  Do not let the other leg or foot touch the foot you are standing on.  Now close your eyes.  You should be able to balance for at least 30 seconds right off the bat.  Not after 3 or 4 tries, right away.  If you can’t do this you have poor balance and should be practicing it.

Balance has come into the forefront in the recent years as people have realized how important it is.  It goes hand in hand with having a strong core.  Have you ever seen a football player run and cut and when he cuts he still is staring straight ahead as his body goes to the right.  He keeps focused straight ahead in order not to be able to give away which direction he is going to run and throw off his opponent and yet his hips will go in one direction or another and he will run by his opponent.  He is able to do this because he has good balance and a strong core.  Balance and a good core go hand and hand but you don’t need to have one to have the other.  For the average person, balance helps us walk and chew gum at the same time.  Balancing helps us to be able to focus on other things when we are walking, like being able to talk on our cell phones and walk at the same time.

There are 3 components involved in balance.  There is the vestibular system, the visual system and the proprioceptive system.  The vestibular system is the complex inner ear system that monitors and controls balance by the position of your head.  This can be thrown off if you have an infection and your inner ear will not adjust appropriately to changes and this can cause you to become dizzy.

This depicts the inner ear, the vestibular system.

The second component is the visual system.  This is using your eye sight to determine changes in the floor.  This you can train.  It is why one of the progressions of balance training is to stand on one leg with your eyes closed.  The closing of the eyes will allow for the simulation of our everyday lives, when we are not always focused on where we are walking and not always concerned with the different surfaces we are walking on.

The proprioception system uses input from you feet and legs to detect changes in the surfaces you are walking on.  There is a big difference from walking on flat concrete then walking on a grassy surface.  The proprioceptive system can detect the changes in the surface and make changes appropriately.  If you are someone that has decreased sensation in your feet, then it is imperative that the other systems be in top working order to help reduce your risk of falling.

Using physical therapy each of these systems can be trained.  Physical therapy can train the proprioceptive system to detect changes on various surfaces.  Physical therapy can also add visual distractions that will train the vestibular and visual system to an extent.  And it is imperative to have these systems trained in order to maintain your balance throughout your life.  Lack of balance has been contributed to falls in both the young and the old.  Now that you understand more about balance, tell me, how can a simple bracelet improve each of these systems?  For more information on physical therapy services go to www.totalperformancept.com.

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