balance training

Balance & Gait Training

Bad falls are a constant worry for seniors and others who have physical challenges. And those worries aren’t unfounded. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths and serious health problems in the U.S.

Improving your walking skills — technically known as your “gait” — and your balance are interrelated challenges. Whether these are developed over time or are from a prior injury. Physical therapy helps you master these skills to decrease your risk of injury, while at the same time increasing your confidence and independence.

What are the benefits of balance and gait training?

Balance and gait are inextricably linked because they tend to impact one another. In a normal gait cycle, we are in a single leg stance for nearly 60% of the cycle, which requires an adequate amount of balance. The problem might actually be slowing reflexes, which make moving around seem more strenuous than it is. By the same token, poor posture and gait can throw off those reflexes. We examine a possible need for orthotics if that postural alignment is unable to be adjusted.

In fact, the balance and gait systems both rely to some extent on a complex number of body systems that include the inner ear, the eyes, the joint-muscle-nerve system, and of course cognitive functions. Therapy that improves gait and balance works with all of these systems to keep them functioning in harmony.

Gait and balance training have a range of benefits, with avoiding injuries being at the top of the list. Beyond lessening your chances of falling, you’re also more likely to feel confident with your footing. In addition, those aches and pains from poor posture are likely to decrease as well.

What does balance and gait training entail?

First, we’ll evaluate your gait to determine potential problems with strength and posture. Simple movements to test balance are also part of the assessment. Together, these basic evaluations point us in the direction of what to focus on in terms of therapy.

Hip and ankle weakness often leads to balance problems, as does poor posture. Strength and flexibility movements can help counteract these problems. We may also practice standing on one leg, walking heel-to-toe, or tracking the movement of your thumb with your eyes as you move it in various positions.

Ready to “balance” your life again?

With our dedicated team of physical therapists behind you, you’ll regain confidence in navigating challenging terrain and learning how to avoid potential injuries. Contact our physical therapy team today to learn more about improving your balance and gait.