PLAY with Balance to PREVENT Falls
You probably haven’t thought about your balance since learning to walk. Just yesterday, right? Or, if you have struggled with a balance-affecting disease or injury, your memory might be a little more recent. Balance is automatic. Signals travel to and from the brain, ears, eyes, and body on a high-speed neurological line. Muscles and nerves register, react and respond in sync to keep you upright. Eyes keep track of movement and the horizon, and ear fluid sloshes around tiny receptors like a level bubble. Let’s PLAY with your balance to PREVENT falls.
The brain has a high-speed network. It receives, interprets, and sends balance signals back to muscles and nerves. The brain will also choose the best source of information to maintain balance. At night the balance system relies on the body feeling and head orientation more than vision. The body FEELS the horizon and uses the balance mechanism of the body nerves. To play with balance and prevent a fall in the dark, practice movement without sight. Begin seated to be safe. Narrow your vision by squinting your eyes or close one eye and hold. Rock gently from side to side or front to back. Move your arms and legs as if walking in place. After some safe practice, you can increase the challenge by closing both eyes and repeating the movements. As you become comfortable with the feeling, do the same exercises standing up. However, be safe and use support like a counter or wall. You could even add slow, safe walking along the counter. This activity can feel disorienting so advance slowly from narrow to closed eyes and from sitting to standing. You can PLAY your way to PREVENT falls.
The balance system uses the eyes to register speed, movement, and horizon. The brain receives movement signals and then tells the body how to react. Depending on your need for speed, you may lean into or away from that hard corner. A fall happens fast. As you accelerate and decelerate while walking, running, or stopping the body, the muscles have to control the frame accordingly. Just think how short of time it takes to catch yourself when you know you are aware that you have to stop. We never get that much warning before a fall. This function uses the balance mechanism of the eyes. To prevent falls from a sudden movement, play with the position of your head and vision. Look and lift your head towards the ceiling, then look and lower your chin down toward the floor. Look and turn your head right and left. Then tilt right and left. Repeat. Change order to create confusion. Again, begin slowly and seated and work to TRAIN the balance system to respond. Then if you happen to trip, slip or skip will be on point and stay upright. PLAY being dizzy to PREVENT falls.
Hear, hear to finding balance!! The ears have it – a labyrinth of fluid-filled tubes with feelers on each end. The inner ear balance system can be one of the most challenged. It is still unclear how aging affects the inner ear, but infections are a common cause of imbalance. So, not only did grandpa lose his hearing from years of factory work, but he also lost his balance. Luckily for us, this balance play for exercise is the most fun. Ancient Chinese writings document the first-ever exercise recommendation. It recommends standing on a swing and swinging daily to increase vitality. Playing on a swing is a healthy way to exercise the inner ear balance system and prevent a fall If the playground is too far away (or the kids keep you off the swing), an imagined swing in your chair can be a great way to balance play. I mean exercise. Go out and PLAY on a swing to PREVENT a fall.
Play with your balance challenges to prevent falls. Understanding the right games can make you the king of the playground! Safe balance play can make your response to falls faster and more accurate. One of the best things about the balance system is that it gets better and better every time you practice. Be sure to introduce these games slowly and safely under the guidance of your physician. PLAY TO PREVENT!
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