mature woman at physical therapy

Best Balance Boosters

As we get older, good nutrition and good lifestyle habits are essential, but so is balance – and the experts at Harvard Health Publications say that we often don’t pay enough attention to that.

“I see a lot of older adults who are nonchalant about balance,” Liz Moritz, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said in a release from Harvard Health Publication.

Good balance is essential, because otherwise you might fall. And falling is the cause of millions of cases of people going to the emergency room, the release says. Injuries can include broken hips and, possibility, the attendant loss of independence and mobility.

However, the Harvard Health Publications say, there are ways to look after your balance:

Physical therapy:

According to the experts at Harvard Health Publications, physical therapy for balance emphasizes the ability of the joints and brain to work together as well as the balance system in the ear, and vision. “We coordinate all three with exercises such as standing on one foot, first with the eyes open, and then with the eyes closed,” Mintz says. “We also work on joint flexibility, walking, and lower-extremity exercises on one or two legs.” Other exercises that boost balance include chair stands (standing up from a sitting position on a chair) and squats. It’s crucial that you get training in doing such exercises.

Muscle strengthening

“Core strength is very important for balance,” Moritz says. “If the abdominal muscles in your core are weak, they cannot support your limbs, especially when you’re walking. If the gluteal muscles in your buttocks and hips aren’t strong, they won’t be able to propel you forward.” To strengthen muscles, Moritz recommends considering gentle core exercises such as a pelvic tilt ((lie on the floor with your knees bent up, then roll your pelvis up). Leg lifts are also helpful, the Harvard Health Publications release says resistance bands on some exercises will increase their effectiveness. But do not do these exercises without first consulting your doctor and learning the correct form from a physical therapist.

Tai chi and yoga

“Tai chi and yoga are exercises that make you pay attention to the control and quality of movement, rather than the quantity, which improves your balance,” says Moritz. Both kinds of exercise increase flexibility, range of motion, leg and core strength and reflexes, the release says. As a result, the Harvard Health experts say, you become better at balancing in various positions. And that skill can help you avoid a fall.

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