Over the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at the Health & Performance Pyramid. We’ve introduced it, and then started to look at the Foundation Layer – explaining the importance of sleep, stress, hydration and nutrition, and what you can do to improve them. We then moved up to the Health layer, starting with physiotherapy and then exercise rehabilitation. This week it’s time to talk about the other type of rehabilitation we offer – balance therapy, with Elizabeth Banks.
How often do you think about your balance? Normally, people don’t tend to consider it unless they’ve recently fallen over or they feel dizzy. Balance is so often described as simply ‘not falling’ but it’s vital to our movement. Just think about stretching for the tennis ball as we move at speed across the court, taking a longer step to avoid a puddle or simply carrying a hot drink up the stairs without half of it ending over your hand – without balance, all of that would be impossible.
As I wrote in September, our ability to balance well is linked to our ability to see well and move well. It requires our brain and our nervous system to coordinate three vital systems. The calibration of our visual (eyes), vestibular (ears) and proprioceptive (joint position sensing) systems all need to be in sync. If one system is ‘louder’ than another it can contribute to our pain levels, our movement capacity, our feeling of well-being – and our ability to concentrate and be productive at work.
Think of your GPS navigation in your car – it works by triangulating your location from 3 satellites. If one of the satellites is ‘off’, your location will be inaccurate and you will have trouble navigating your route. Essentially, Elizabeth’s job is to make sure that what your systems are sending to your brain (about where your body is, and what shapes it’s making) is accurate so that your brain can respond properly.
Anything that affects any of these systems (which can include injury and illness) can have a negative effect on your balance and your ability to maintain posture, and on your ability to create confident and accurate movement. The brain places a hierarchy on these systems with visual and vestibular sitting at the top. That’s why it’s essential to assess, train and calibrate vision and balance along with movement training.
If you have issues in these systems, it can result in lots of different symptoms, including:
- you may not be able to move in an athletic way, and look uncoordinated or feel uncertain of your movement or balance.
- you may struggle to recover from injuries or niggles – because high quality movement is important for injury recovery, but balance problems can reduce your movement quality
- you might feel totally level when tilted, and when you stand upright you feel crooked!
- you might also be experiencing dizziness, vertigo, or just don’t feel steady on your feet.
- if your calibration issues are more subtle, then you may not feel specific symptoms, but just be aware that you’re “not quite right“, or that you’re more tired than usual, finding it harder to concentrate, or a bit on edge.
It’s Elizabeth’s job to analyse your balance and coordination accurately, using a variety of tests and games. From this, she can work out which systems are holding you back – and then produce a plan of drills and exercises to help you recalibrate and restore full capacity to your system, so you can move with confidence and athleticism. She helps people from chronic back pain sufferers, to people who’ve just had major surgery, to elite athletes, to City professionals who want to stay at the top of their game.
Interested? Call us on 0207 175 0150, or click the button below, to book your session with Elizabeth now.