3 ways to improve balance for seniors

Losing your sense of balance and coordination is worrying at any age. But for older adults, lack of balance is especially concerning. For adults aged 65 or older, 1 out of every 5 falls causes an injury. You don’t have to live your life in fear of falling. There are many ways that older adults can improve their balance.

Balance training and fall prevention exercises have known benefits for seniors. One study found that by improving their balance through physical therapy programs, older adults saw a reduced number of falls and fall-related injuries. With the help of a physical therapist, you can work toward an improved sense of balance and coordination. Continue reading to learn how three physical therapy techniques can help with improving balance for seniors.

What are the benefits of improving balance for seniors?

There are several reasons why older adults should take the time to improve their balance. Aside from decreased risk of falls and fall-related injury, physical therapy for improving balance also has the following benefits:

  • Reduced anxiety and fear of falling.
  • Improved flexibility and posture.
  • Increased activity levels.

These benefits not only help with improving balance and coordination for seniors, but they also can lead to an overall increase in quality of life.

3 ways physical therapists can help improve balance for seniors

A physical therapist can help you slowly and safely improve your balance. While you are recovering your balance and coordination, a physical therapist will also provide you with tools to reduce your fall risk at home. Here are three physical therapy techniques that a therapist may use to help improve balance for seniors:

  • Balance training exercises — A physical therapist can design an exercise program to help improve seniors’ ability to control their balance during everyday activities. Physical therapists will work with seniors to improve their balance until they are able to safely participate in at-home or community exercise programs. A balance training program may include:
  1. Static balance exercises — Static balance is our ability to hold our body in a specific position. One common static balance exercise involves placing the heel of one foot in front of the toes of the other foot. This is known as tandem stance. Your physical therapist may have you hold a tandem stance for 10 to 60 seconds per leg. Older adults will typically practice static balance exercises until they can safely progress to more complex dynamic balance exercises.
  1. Dynamic balance exercises — Dynamic balance is our ability to maintain balance while moving. Most dynamic balance exercises involve standing in an upright position and then shifting your weight backward and forward or from right to left. Hip abductions are also a common exercise for improving dynamic balance for seniors. A physical therapist can guide you through these exercises and adjust them as your balance improves.
  • Mobility aids — With referral from a primary care physician, physical therapists can help determine if an elderly patient needs a mobility or balance aid. If you do require a mobility aid, a physical therapist will help select the appropriate aid and have it fitted for you. They will also teach you how to use your mobility aid correctly. Mobility aids, such as canes or walkers, can provide seniors with additional support while improving their balance and help reduce risk of falls at home.
  • Joint mobilization — Joint mobilization is a type of manual therapy where a physical therapist uses their hands to move and manipulate specific joints. Sometimes, as you age, your joints can become irritated, swollen or misaligned. This can lead to issues with balance as your body tries to compensate for the injured joint. As such, a physical therapist may use joint mobilization techniques to help you regain your balance and coordination. In fact, studies have shown that ankle joint mobilization can improve balance for seniors. 

Our Back in Motion physical therapists are prepared to help elderly patients improve their balance

Improving balance can be intimidating for seniors. Luckily, our Back in Motion physical therapists are here to help. After an initial fall risk assessment, our physical therapists will work with you to create a balance training routine designed to challenge your current abilities and encourage growth. We’ll support you every step of the way until you have the balance to confidently stand on your own two feet.
You are never too old to work on your health and wellness. Contact us today to learn how we can help improve your balance and to schedule an initial appointment.

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