YOU ARE YOUR OWN FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH: Movement, Motivation and Mindset for Active Seniors

Energy Bite 168 – Thoughts about Balance and Recovery

Which is more important, being able to stand on one foot and balance yourself, or to be able to recover when you lose your balance?

When I was in flight training to become a Marine Corps Officer and Pilot back in the early 1960s, part of the ongoing medical evaluations was to determine how well you could maintain and recover your equilibrium. The test wasn’t about how well you could balance. It was about how you reacted when you got slightly off balance. The medical officer would ask you to close your eyes while standing on one leg and then nudge you off balance to see how you responded. Some of the student pilots didn’t recognize being off balance and were subsequently dropped from flight status.

I believe that the ability to recover from being off balance is more important than doing exercises for balance. Both are important. It’s nice to be able to balance on one foot, but it is more important to be able to “catch yourself” when you recognize you are losing your balance.

What muscles need to be strengthened? Legs, abdominal muscles and ankles primarily. When you are able to stop a major fall you may end up with a twisted ankle. But better to have a twisted ankle than a broken hip. Of course the benefit of “ankle and foot stability” from standing on one foot and maintaining your balance is important. That will help you keep your balance. But I believe it is more important is to be able to recognize when you are off balance and to stop a fall before you lose control.

So yes, by all means, find a support and practice balancing on one foot, and maybe ask someone to carefully nudge you while you are on one foot to see how well you catch yourself. But more importantly, do those leg raises, twisting crunches and partial knee bends to strengthen your legs and core. That may keep you out of a long term stay in rehab while recovering from a broken hip.

Thank you for reading.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.