What is balance? Questions to ask yourself

Ashley Contreras | 10 November, 2021

            What is balance? Questions to ask yourself

Do you have physical balance or are you at risk for falling? Balance is a combination of 3 systems working together for upright posture. Balance can decline as part of the aging process and can be a common target of disease. Here are some quick questions to help you recognize balance loss in your own body. You can also visit "How to figure out your fall risk" for an objective measure on falls. 

1. Do you find yourself feeling unsteady when you’re walking?

2. Do you take your time when you turn because you feel like you’ll lose your balance?

3. Do you find yourself “furniture surfing” at home?

4. Do you prefer to hold someones hand when walking? 

5. Do you need a well lit area for walking safely?

6. Have you fallen in the past year? 

 If you answered YES to any of the above questions you may be at risk for falling. Falls can result in injury, hospitalization, and even death. It is important to recognize the signs of a fall risk and work to prevent them. 

“Furniture surfing” occurs when one uses external items within their home such as walls or furniture as a means to “walk safely” within their home. This typically happens when one has decreased balance or confidence. They feel safer knowing these items are here to rely on, but this can still be unsafe for patients, leading to falls. Furniture surfing becomes a compensation for individuals.  

We need input from multiple systems in our body to help keep us steady. If one system is impaired or off, we may need to strengthen the others to assist. Targeting all 3 of the balance systems through exercise gives us the best outcomes to combat balance loss. 

Physical therapists are trained to improve one’s balance and sense of stability. Through their expertise, they can create a program specific to your individual needs so you can regain your balance, confidence, and safety! Reach out to your local healthcare team or visit the APTA website find a PT to begin working with a therapist today!

Guest Author Linda Tran, DPT