I have Posted many times about falling, fall prevention, the risks, how simple it is to evaluate your risk, and how simple and easy it is to do something about it. I even chronicled a week in which people were either falling or trying to one right after the other all week. Search this Blog for “falling” and you will find those Posts. Ever new patient in our office – the ones that can stand on one leg at all – gets tested this way for balance.
[If you are going to a Tai chi class you can skip this Post because you won't have any balance issues after a short time.]
Here I just want to share what the normal times are for being able to stand on one leg with and without your eyes open. You can simply check to see how your balance is. At the end, if I have time, I will share a few ways to dealing with it.
So, first a word of CAUTION! Don’t fall and hurt yourself testing your balance!! Be safe.
Single Leg Stance
If your age (in years) is 20-59 you should be able to stand on one leg with your EYES OPEN for 29-30 seconds and with your EYES CLOSED for 21- 28.9 seconds.
If your age is 60-69 you should be able to stand on one leg with your EYES OPEN for 22.5 seconds and with your EYES CLOSED for 10 seconds.
If your age is 70-79 it’s 14.2 and 4.3 respectively.
I almost never get to check a new patient’s balance with their eyes closed because they do so poorly with their eyes open. That often has to do with the condition for which they are here to see me interfering, and after chiropractic care they do much better.
Any patient who has every put any effort into improving their balance succeeds measurably in a very short time.
There are lots of ways to improve balance but here are some really simple and easy ones that work as well as the high priced P.T. visits and all the gadgets you can buy (can you say BOSU?). But before you do anything, think about what it means to have such poor balance. Ask yourself why? Especially if your balance is way off on one side and not as bad on the other. There is a reason. Do you know what it is?
The first and simplest approach that I share with patients is to just spend time standing on one leg while in line wherever they find themselves standing in line. No one will notice and there is usually something handy to grab if you need to catch yourself.
If you have an exercise ball for some other reason, you can sit on it and keep one foot up off the ground. That will do a number of impressive things for you balance and your back.
Walk on uneven ground/sand… barefoot… at dawn or dusk…
You can see that it’s easy to find the challenge that is just about right for you. After some time practicing, you can take it up a notch and gradually you will be amazed at how much better your balance is. Your confidence and control will improve as your risk of falling diminishes.
Obviously it’s a matter of “balancing” the challenge with the risk – even as your train the skill. Do what is challenging but do not do what is difficult. Try novel activities if possible – they hit the brain harder and produce more adaptation.