an older adult balancing on one leg on a small piece of wood

 

                       What is Your Balance Score?

The balance score, in the context of human body mechanics, reflects how well a person can maintain their equilibrium, both statically and dynamically. It is a measure of how well you can control your body position, particularly when moving or performing tasks that require physical coordination, strength, and agility.

Balance is divided into two types: static and dynamic. Static balance refers to maintaining stability while in a non-moving state, such as standing on one leg. Dynamic balance, on the other hand, refers to maintaining stability during movement, such as walking or running.

Why is Balance Important?

Balance is critical for everyday activities, including walking, climbing stairs, and even turning to look behind you. Good balance not only helps prevent falls and related injuries but also enhances overall mobility and fitness.

As we age, maintaining good balance becomes increasingly crucial. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of injury and death in older adults. Improving balance can significantly reduce the risk of falls and the health complications they can bring.

Moreover, good balance improves athletic performance and can help prevent sports-related injuries. It aids in better body control, allows quicker reactions during dynamic movements, and contributes to strength and flexibility.

How Can You Determine Your Balance Score?

There are several tests and methods to assess your balance, which can be done at home or with the help of a professional.

    • The Single-Leg Stance Test: Stand near a wall or a sturdy object you can hold onto if you lose your balance. Stand on one leg and see how long you can maintain your balance. The goal should be to stand for at least 30 seconds without using your arms or the wall to stabilize.

    • The Heel-To-Toe Walk Test: This test assesses dynamic balance. Stand with the heel of one foot touching the toes of your other foot. Take 20 steps forward, heel-to-toe. You should aim to keep a straight line without wavering to the sides.

  • Professional Assessment: For a more accurate and detailed evaluation of your balance, you may consider a professional assessment. Physical therapists can perform comprehensive balance tests like the BERG balance test, and Dynamic Gait Index, and provide detailed feedback and a training plan to improve balance and prevent falls in the future.

Here is the self-assessment of fall risk from the National Council On Aging (NCOA)

Improving Your Balance Score

If your balance score isn’t where you want it to be, don’t despair. Like muscle strength, balance can be improved with regular practice. Incorporating balance exercises into your regular workout regimen, practicing yoga or Tai Chi, or using fitness equipment like balance balls or discs can enhance both your static and dynamic balance.

Remember, everyone’s balance abilities are different, and what’s important is to find your current balance score, set realistic goals for improvement, and work consistently towards them.

By giving our balance the attention it deserves, we can not only enhance our physical health and safety but also improve our overall quality of life. So, the question remains – do you know your balance score?

If you live in or near Salem, Oregon, give us a call or fill out this Contact Us form for a free balance score assessment.

HWY Physical Therapy

1249 Fair View Ave SE Salem OR

971-202-197