Balance is something that we often take for granted. As we age, we become less sensitive to where we are in space and less able to respond to a force that knocks us off balance. If you have ever had a fall, you know that it can happen without warning and with serious consequences. Here are some statistics from the American Physical Therapy Association:
- One in four people that live at home, and are over the age of 65, will fall within the next year.
- Sixty percent of all falls occur in the home.
- In the senior population, falls are the leading cause of injury deaths. Falls are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.
Balance is something that often declines with age, but as we become more sedentary and no longer challenge our body with physical activities, there are subtle changes even now. The more sedentary job we have the more often we spend in supported positions. The sensors in our spine that tell us where we are in space (proprioceptors) get lazy and less sensitive. This will cause our ability to know where we are in space to be delayed. Sitting supported will also cause the spinal stabilizer muscles to atrophy and become less coordinated. This will cause a less than optimal response to being moved off balance, an may cause more stress on the the spinal joints, discs, and ligaments. Many people that have had an onset of low back pain without an overt mechanism of injury have this exact problem. The spinal instability is a lack of spinal balancing The good news is that balance can be regained and if you follow a few simple tips, you can reduce your chance or the chance of a loved one from falling and even having back pain. You should consult with a physical therapist to address your balance and back issues ASAP!