Balance is your ability to maintain your center of mass over your base of support during any type of physical activity. Balance is necessary for us to walk, climb stairs, bathe, play with our kids, or perform virtually any physical task safely and without falling, slipping, or tripping. It requires an interplay between our brain and nervous system, our muscles and skeleton, as well as various sensory organs throughout our body. Posture describes the overall resting position of your body. The optimal expression of health requires that both balance and posture are fully functioning in such a way that a person can perform daily tasks in a safe, efficient, and energy-conserving way.
Poor posture--including a forward head, slouched and internally rotated shoulders, and a hunched over back--can impose excessive forces and strain on your body. Indeed, doctors and researchers have found that poor posture and balance can lead to problems including:
Interestingly, poor posture can be both a cause of these issues and also a result, especially with problems such as excessive weight and poor self-image.
These negative effects are especially apparent in older adults. As we age, the strength and endurance of our postural muscles tends to decrease, as well as the efficiency and effectiveness of our central nervous system. For this special population, poor balance and posture potentially means loss of function, loss of independence, and even loss of life due to falls. Falls have a direct medical cost of over $30 billion annually, with millions of older Americans every year facing broken bones, head injuries, or even death as a consequence.
Consider consulting with your Anchorage, AK physical therapist for a postural screening and balance testing. This can prevent you from developing chronic problems that may put you at risk for significant health issues later on in life. Your physical therapist can also prescribe therapeutic exercises, manual therapy, and workspace modifications to restore your body's alignment, correct muscle and joint imbalances, and eliminate some of the main factors contributing to poor posture.