Don't Let Gravity WIn

18 April 2017 4:49PM
By Jack Waller - Physiotherapist
Don't Let Gravity WIn

Don’t Let Gravity Win

Our bodies are in a constant battle with gravity to stay upright. Whether you are sprinting towards the try line or simply standing up from a chair, the ability to maintain balance is essential for almost any activity. When an injury does occur, it is very likely that your balance has been affected in some way and it is our job as Physiotherapists to fix this. So, what is going on? How does balance work? And most importantly, how do we improve it? 

Your body's balance is actually reliant upon 3 systems sending your brain information: The visual system, a balance organ located in your ear known as the vestibular system and through information provided by receptors in your joints, the proprioceptive system. Information from all three of these systems is processed in your brain allowing you to maintain an upright, level posture and be aware of where all of your body parts are in relation to each other. 

 Research has shown that your average person is about 70% reliant on the proprioceptive system, 20% vestibular and 10% vision when standing on a firm flat surface. When an injury occurs such as a sprained ankle or knee injury all the receptors carrying proprioceptive information from that joint are disrupted and your other systems have to compensate as best they can.

 There are plenty of ways physio can help retrain the proprioceptive system and help restore you back to full balance potential. Firstly, your current level of balance would be assessed both statically and dynamically (with movement). From there appropriate exercises can be given that challenge the proprioceptive system- practice makes perfect. Here are just some common exercises used to re-train balance used by our physiotherapists:

  • Practicing maintaining posture on uneven surfaces such as foam or a wobble board
  • Strengthening exercises for the muscles around the injured joint for increased stability 
  • Perturbation training: Improving reaction times to a quick change in body position

Balance really is a key aspect of rehabilitation; the deficit may not be as blatantly obvious during the initial stages of an injury compared to other symptoms such as pain and weakness. This can cause balance to be an area overlooked and not addressed properly during your rehabilitation. In turn, this can lead to a patient not returning to full pre-injury potential. If you are feeling a bit wobbly on your feet, don’t let gravity win and book into see us today.