You know the feeling: struggling with daily tasks, stumbling in the dark, and fearing that you may fall and get hurt.
When left untreated, balance problems and disorders can cruelly disrupt your daily activities and put you at risk of dangerous (possibly life-threatening) falls.
Are you tired of balance problems ruling your life? Are you questioning if poor balance is something you’ll just have to “put up with” forever?
You’ve come to the right place. Take a breath of relief because you have more control over your balance than you think.
This is your ultimate guide to balance problems and how to overcome them.
Once you learn more about balance and how to improve it (no matter the cause), you can live a happier, more confident, and safer lifestyle.
Behind the Scenes: These Systems Help Us Balance
Have you ever wondered how our balance (or lack thereof) is controlled?
There are three main systems that work together to help us balance.
When there is an issue that prevents one or more of these systems from functioning properly, we can have trouble with daily tasks or certain movements. We might feel dizzy, unable to stay steady, or trouble perceiving the spatial orientation of things around us.
The Vestibular System
One of the most common reasons for dizziness is problems with the vestibular system.
Your vestibular system is located in your inner ears and gives you a sense of balance, head motion, and head position relative to gravity.
Your inner ear has three canals that contain Cochlear fluid. The Cochlear fluid helps you calculate the correct line of gravity according to the angle, weight, and velocity of your body.
The reason why you get dizzy when spinning around is because the Cochlear fluid is spinning along with you. Some people with inner ear disorders may have episodes where they feel like they’re spinning around, especially if they tilt their head at a specific angle.
The Visual System
Have you ever tried to stand on one foot with your eyes closed?
Even to a person who doesn’t have problems balancing, they will usually feel dizzy within a minute and lose balance. This is because our visual system plays an important role in keeping us balanced.
Your visual system sends information about depth, velocity, and motion perception to your brain. Your brain then uses this information to calculate things like:
- Your body position relative to the 3D space and objects around you
- The depth of objects
- The velocity (meaning speed in a given direction) and the direction of movement of objects and your body
The Somatosensory System
Just like insects, we have “feelers” that help us get a clear idea of what surfaces we’re on and where each of our body parts are located.
We don’t have those little antennas (how weird would that be?), but instead, we have two parts of our somatosensory system that tell us this information.
The first part is called the proprioception. This is basically an internal awareness mechanism that tells our nervous system where our body parts and organs are in relation to our whole bodies.
The second part is called exteroception. This part contains exteroceptors, which are like pressure sensors on our hands and feet that tell us information about the surface we are on. For example, it can tell us that we are on a wobbly, moving surface (like a boat), or a hard, steady surface (like concrete).
Learning more about your balance condition and how to treat it through physical therapy is the quickest and easiest way to get your balance back.