5 easy ways to find balance and prevent age-related falls
As you grow older, balance becomes a more important piece of your health puzzle.
It makes sense. As you age, your muscles and bones weaken. Your digestive tract might become less efficient—leading to nutrient deficiencies. And your nerve pathways and reflexes slow.
If you need visceral proof, watch a teenager text sometime.
Their fingers fly at light speed not just because they grew up with cell phones, but because their nerve network is running at max capacity.
The same can’t be said for the rest of us. That’s why virtually every professional athlete has to retire well short of 40.
Worse, when you start to show signs of imbalance—or, worse, experience a fall—things tend to snowball.
Anyone who has fallen is much less likely to be as active after the stumble. And greater inactivity leads to weaker muscles and bones, dulled reflexes—and a greater risk for future falls.
Over the past few years, the problem has actually gotten worse. A recent 12-year study revealed a 30% increase in self-reported falls among American seniors.
Luckily, there is plenty you can do about it.
But before we talk about how to improve your balance, we have to understand why you may be losing it in the first place.
Finding the source of the problem
If you are having problems with your balance, it could be caused by all sorts of factors. And diagnosing the right one can confound even the best medical minds.
Doctors—especially in emergency rooms or urgent care facilities—look for big problems first. They ignore the small problems, small adjustments, which can make a big difference.
For some, a nutrient, allergy, or toxicity assay could be the key to identifying the reason for loss of balance. These have shown to be the greatest tools in the fight against nutritional deficiency and foreign contamination.
With an assay, you can quickly and easily see if you’re missing something—or if a foreign body is causing an adverse reaction.
Iron deficiency is just one of many possibilities—and one that most doctors won’t catch, because regular assays don’t test for iron.
That’s a big mistake. Too much or too little iron can cause all sorts of problems, including dizziness—and cancer.
But that’s a subject for another day. The important takeaway here is that you are your best—and, in many cases, only—advocate.
If you aren’t feeling well, see a doctor and get a nutrient assay. Before anything else, find out if you are in balance.
Get allergy and toxicity assays as well, to make sure that nothing is poisoning you.
5 Easy Ways to Find Balance and Prevent Age-Related Falls
Inevitably, we all lose balance as we age. However, a surprising number of balance issues are actually nutrition or allergy issues. Less common—but still present—are toxicity issues.
If your balance is being affected by one of these problems, you could have a very easy fix on your hands. Here are 5 ways you can help slow the fall.
1) Eat right
As we just mentioned, nutrient deficiencies can directly cause balance problems. However, nutrient deficiencies can have a more indirect effect as well. If you are eating too many fats and carbs, for instance, you are likely to feel lethargic after meals.
Lethargy leads to inactivity. And inactivity leads to decreased muscle and bone mass, along with a less efficient neural network.
Make sure you are giving your body the proper fuel to operate at peak condition.
2) Throw the ball
Studies have shown that exercises involving a throwing motion help your body’s balance. Because the act of throwing and catching involves lots of tricky calculations your body must make, it’s a great exercise for your nervous system, along with your muscles and bones.
The studies were done using a medicine ball, but throwing a baseball or even just throwing a bouncy ball against the wall and catching it will train and improve your coordination.
And that increase in coordination will help your balance.
3) Do complex movements
This doesn’t mean you need to strike difficult yoga poses. Rather, it means that you should do movements that involve your whole body. The more muscles have to coordinate with each other, the better.
Yoga can count, in some cases.
Tai chi is a great exercise as well—but so is dancing.
And simply walking around works wonders!
Anything you can do to get large muscle groups communicating with one another will do wonders for your balance.
4) Learn to raise more heel
If you are going to practice a limited exercise, make it heel raises. Although the motion is small, the effects travel up and down your body, strengthening your legs and your core.
In other words, the parts of your body most responsible for holding you upright. Best of all, you can do heel raises each morning and evening as your brush your teeth.
Adding this little wrinkle to your morning and evening routine can have an outsized effect on your balance.
5) Strengthen all your muscles—and your bones
The best possible thing for balance is a strong body, through and through. Your muscles can help hold you in place and protect you in any fall.
Meanwhile, stronger bones give your body a better infrastructure, and reduce the likelihood of any real damage sustained during a fall.
Getting stronger muscles and bones takes more than one or two quick pointers—that’s why I’m saving most of my tips for part two of this series, devoted entirely to strengthening your bones.
Practice all these exercises and habits, and you can keep balance problems from interfering with your life.
After all, that is the goal of all wellness in the end.
Take good care.
- Healthy Years, “The act of better balance”, December 2015, page 3
Disclaimer: Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Last Updated: November 18, 2020
Originally Published: March 9, 2016