Improving Balance through Better Posture
Although there are life-threatening conditions that can cause balance issues, bad posture has significant affects on balance. Correct bad posture and there is a rebalancing of musculature, tendons, ligaments. Most importantly there is a re-wiring of the brain to improve balance. Good posture is by innate design and your body is looking for better balance. It just needs a little bit of help remembering.
Studies reveal as we age postural distortion patterns are associated with decrease in balance and equilibrium. Research in 2007 demonstrated the correlation of hyperkyphotic posture and injurious falls in older persons. A hyperkyphotic curvature is an excessive curve of the spine. A common posture is hunching of the upper back and shoulder. The research indicated that elderly individuals who present with hyperkyphosis are more likely to suffer from falls. These falls can cause serious injuries.
There are multiple pathways and centers in the brain associated with maintaining balance. Staying upright is a complex system. A professional trained in this field can help to isolate more precisely where the deficiency exists in the brain. Here is a test you can do at home to check the status of your balance.
The first step in improving balance is establishing a baseline. Below are two tests you can do with help from someone who can stand next to you for support. Their role is to keep you from falling. To give feedback on what they see as you are performing the tests. Take off your shoes and socks and stand on a even smooth surface.
Test 1: Stand with you feet together eyes open wait 30 seconds then close your eyes for 30 seconds.
Test 2: Lift one leg to 90 degrees eyes open wait 30 seconds then close your eyes for 30 seconds. Repeat with other leg.
How did you do?
- Did you step forward or were unable to hold posture for more than a few seconds – Level 1 (poor)
- You were able to hold your posture upright but with swaying greater than 2 inches – Level 2 (fair)
- Did you hold your posture with eyes open and closed in both positions for 30 seconds – Level 3 (excellent)
Ideally you want to be at Level 3. Able to hold your posture with eyes open or closed without heavy swaying (greater than 2 inches) for 30 seconds. Don’t be too surprised by how difficult it is. You are not alone, many clients I see rank between level 1 and 2. This is one confirmation that poor posture is affecting balance.
You were born with an innate design to constantly seek homeostasis or physiological balance. Through accidents, injuries and wear and tear the body slowly loses stability. The body’s strategies for adapting to these injuries are great short term. Long term, it will result in breakdown and degeneration of the body tissues. Its’ “memory” of optimal balance falters and a pattern of poor balance becomes the norm.
There are life-threatening conditions that can cause balance issues and should not be ignored. If you tested at level 1 or 2 seek out expert advice to isolate the cause. A properly trained posture expert will perform further testing to locate the cause of the imbalance. If need be he/she will refer you to another practitioner if deeper investigation is indicated.
Correcting bad posture rebalances musculature, tendons, ligaments and most importantly re-trains the brain. Your brain will operate as intended. Remember having good posture is by innate design. Your body is looking for better balance – it just needs a little help.
Dr. Paul Paez, DC, NRT, NET, CMT
National Board Certified Doctor of Chiropractic (DC), trained in clinical nutrition (NRT), neuro-emotional release (NET), and Massage Therapy (CMT). Dr. Paul holds the rare triple distinction of Certified Posture Expert, Certified Posture Neurologist and Certified Posture Ergonomist by the American Posture Institute. Posture Possible is the very best resource for posture information.