Physical therapy for balance focuses on the ability of the joints and brain to communicate, the balance system in the ear, and vision. Physiotherapy works to coordinate all three areas in one exercise such as standing on one foot, first with the eyes open, and then with the eyes closed. In addition, physiotherapy improves balance with increased joint flexibility, walking, and lower-extremity exercises.
"Core strength is very important for balance. 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,"
Two exercises that will improve muscle strength is bridges and wall planks. Consult a physiotherapist before adding any exercise into your balance program.
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. In tai chi, you practice slow, flowing motions and shift your weight from one limb to another. Yoga incorporates a poses that focus on correct postures and breathing. Both exercises increase flexibility, range of motion, leg and core strength, reflexes and your ability to balance in multiple stances.
If you can't see where you're going, your fall risk goes up. The solution may be as simple as a new eyeglasses prescription. If you have an increased risk for other eye conditions, you may need an eye exam more often.
Assistive walking devices
A cane or a walker will provide more stability and confidence when walking. Walkers are available with wheels intended for different terrain, lockable brakes, seats, baskets, and other features such as headlights. Canes are available with various handgrips and bases. Seeing a physiotherapist is the best way to get trained on how to effectively use these devices to help improve your balance.
Now that summer is here, physical activity outdoors can be much more difficult with the humidity and heat factoring in. Here are a few low-intensity activities that are fun and manageable.
1. Swimming and Water Aerobics
Calories burned: 333 doing freestyle at a slow to moderate pace for 45 minutes.
Swimming is the best exercise you can do in the summertime. Not only is it fun and refreshing, your body does not sweat and the impact on your joints you would normally have on land is reduced. In addition to cardio, lakes and pools are a great spot for strength training exercises and stretches with water aerobics.
2. Water Sports
Calories burned: 340 kayaking for 1 hour at 4mph.
Canoeing, kayaking, stand up paddle-boarding, and pedal boating are fun cottage activities that keep you active and fit without sacrificing enjoying your summer away from the city.
Calories burned: 216 walking at 3mph for 1 hour.
Walking at a steady pace for an extended period of time is just as effective as jogging with the benefit of being able to carry water bottles and manage your breathing easily in the heat.
Calories burned: 200 calories for 1 hour of Hatha yoga.
Yoga combines endurance with stretches, strength training and balance without pushing your body to its limit. You may begin by taking a class in a studio until you find your favourite poses and flows which you may do in your backyard, in a park, or by the water as a way to relax your mind and be fit in the summer.
1. Stay hydrated
The discs between the vertebrae in your spine require water to maintain disc height and spinal alignment and to take pressure off the spine.
2. Increase magnesium intake
Neck pain is most frequently the result of a muscle strain or sprain. Increasing your intake of magnesium, a mineral that aids in the contraction and relaxation of muscles, may help avoid these pain causing problems.
3. Avoid cradling the phone in your neck
One way you may not even realize that you’re aggravating your neck is through angling it while speaking on the phone. Do not cradle the phone between your ear and shoulder, as this puts unneeded strain on your cervical spine.
4. Consider acupuncture
Acupuncture stimulated nerves, muscles and connective tissue. This stimulation boosts your body's natural painkillers and increases blood flow, which is proven to help some people with pain management.
5. Try remedial massage
Remedial massage differs from traditional massage in that it involves oil being applied and rubbed into the skin. Over time, the oil is intended to penetrate the muscles and joints, removing toxins and improving joint mobility while relaxing the muscles. A targeted remedial massage may offer relief for your neck pain.
6. Visit a physiotherapist
It is common to think of physiotherapy as a treatment aimed at reducing symptoms from a given injury. In addition to this, physiotherapy for the neck can also have other benefits, such as:
7. Place ice on certain areas of the body
Neck pain may also be joined by nagging headaches and numbness or tingling in the back of the head, neck, shoulders and hands.
8. Use a water pillow
Water pillows allow you to dictate the firmness of the pillow to reach the ideal firmness that reduces neck pain while sleeping. More water equals a firmer pillow; less water provides a softer pillow.
9. Incorporate swimming into your exercise routine
Swimming has therapeutic effects on neck pain, specifically in reducing inflammation, providing quick pain relief and easing neck stiffness.
These exercises can be done as way to accelerate recovery at home. Ask your physiotherapist how many sets and times per day you should be doing each exercise based on your needs.
1. Pendulum stretch
Relax your shoulders. Stand beside a surface and lean over slightly with the affected arm hanging down. Swing the arm in a small circle — about 30cm in diameter. As your symptoms improve, increase the diameter of your swing and use a small weight.
2. Towel stretch
Hold one end of a three-foot-long towel behind your back and grab the opposite end with your other hand, holding in a horizontal position. Use your good arm to pull the affected arm upward to stretch it. Hold the bottom of the towel with the affected arm and pull it toward the lower back with the unaffected arm.
3. Finger walk
Face a wall three-quarters of an arm’s length away. Reach out and touch the wall with the fingertips of the affected arm. With your elbow slightly bent, slowly walk your fingers up the wall until you’ve raised your arm as far as you comfortably can. Your fingers should be doing the work, not your shoulder muscles. Slowly lower the arm and repeat.
4. Cross-body reach
Use your good arm to lift your affected arm at the elbow, and bring it up and across your body, gently stretching the shoulder. You may do this either sitting or standing.
5. Armpit stretch
Using your good arm, lift the affected arm onto a shelf at chest level. Gently bend your knees, opening up the armpit. Deepen your knee bend slightly, gently stretching the armpit, and then straighten. With each knee bend, stretch a little further without force or pain.
6. Outward rotation
Hold a rubber exercise band between your hands with your elbows at a 90-degree angle close to your sides. Rotate the lower part of the affected arm outward 5cm and hold for 5 seconds.
Walking is one of the easiest exercises to incorporate into your daily routine to maintain physical health and improve mobility. Although we do it every day to get from one place to another, walking for an extended period of time should be approached like any exercise. The Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) created the acronym S.M.A.R.T. (stretch, move, add it up, reduce strain, talk to a physiotherapist) to help you start.
Warming-up your muscles helps you move easily and reduces the risk for injuries or strains. Stretching should be done before, during and after walking and should include the calves, hamstrings, quads, and hips.
Stretching should never be painful. Do not stretch further after you feel a gentle pull of the muscle.
Walking is not just about putting one foot in front of the other. Control your breathing by consciously inhaling deep through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. You can add more to your workout by using vigorous movement of the arms, with or without bent elbows.
Add it up
Keep track of the amount of walking that you do each day. Setting aside an hour for a good walk is equally as beneficial as doing 20 minute walks 3 times a day. Keep walking, but for shorter distances or at slower speeds, when the weather gets worse so that you can continue your routine for all 12 months of the year.
There are many factors involved in the potential risk for strain, including the gear you use. Wear proper walking shoes that fit your need and type of walking program. Shop around for pouches, backpacks, etc. that help ease the amount of weight you carry.
The CPA also recommends that you do not use wrist or ankle weights while walking which add too much stress on your joints.
Talk to a Physiotherapist
Physiotherapists not only treat an existing injury; they also teach you how to prevent the onset of pain or injury that prevents you from completely your daily routines with ease. See a physiotherapist if you want to begin an exercise routine with the goals of increasing your mobility, relieving pain, building strength, and/or improving balance and cardiovascular health.