Balance is vital to normal every day life activities such as getting out of a chair and walking, bending over, washing your hair, driving a car, or going grocery shopping. Just about everything you do requires balance control and most of the time, you don’t even have to think about it.
When balance problems develop, however, they can cause profound disruptions in your daily life. In addition to increased risk for falls, balance disorders can disrupt normal activity level, limit exercise tolerance and place limits on outdoor fun.
The ability to maintain balance is a complex process that depends on these components: your sensory systems, your brain’s ability to process the information from those systems and your muscles and joints for coordinating the movements required to maintain balance.
A person with a balance disorder may have a problem in one or a combination of these systems.
Are you at Risk for Falling?
There are several known risk factors that can increase your susceptibility to falling. Some are related to your physical fitness, psychological and social factors and some to your environment.
Some common indications include symptoms of dizziness or unsteadiness, taking one or more medications, a recent period of bed rest or inactivity, loss of strength or feeling in the legs or feet, or a loss of confidence in your ability to get around.
Falls are typically not the result of a single cause or risk factor. More often, they are the result of a combination of factors.
Balance Self Test
To help determine if you may be headed for a fall, take the Balance Self Test below. If you answer yes to one or more of the questions, you could be at risk. The best way to determine if you have a problem, however is to make an appointment for a complete balance screening test.
- Have you fallen more than once in the past year?
- Do you take medicine for two or more of the following: heart disease, arthritis, anxiety or depression?
- Do you feel dizzy when you bend down or quickly turn?
- Do you have black-outs or seizures?
- Have you experienced a stroke or other neurological problem that has affected your balance?
- Do you experience numbness or loss of sensation in your legs and/or feet?
- Do you use a walker or wheelchair, or do you need assistance to get around?
- Are you inactive? (Answer yes if you don’t exercise at least 20-30 minutes three times a week.)
- Do you feel unsteady when you are walking or climbing stairs?
- Do you have difficulty sitting down or rising from a seated or lying position?
Don’t wait until you fall. Call 385-6969 today to schedule a FREE
At the Durango Sports Club Physical Therapy Clinic we offer spin-scan analysis and bike fittings. Below are some common problems related to biking and treatments.
What is it?
If you feel pain near the bottom of your kneecap that generally gets worse with cycling, you may have patellar tendonitis. Patellar tendonitis is an overuse injury in which micro-tears occur at the site of the attachment of the patella tendon to the kneecap.
How to treat it.
In most instances, treatment consists of ice, rest, stretching, and specific exercises. Adjusting pedal cleats, seat in height, seat tube angle, and stem may be required. Ultrasound, electrical stimulation, patella tendon mobilizations and exercises are used by Physical Therapists to treat tendonitis.
Quadriceps stretch—make sure the hip is extended and then bend the knee until a stretch is felt in the front of the thigh. Hold the stretch 30 seconds. Do it twice a day, 3 times each. Also try straight leg raises while lying on your back. Hold each leg lift 5 seconds
Low Back Pain
What is it?
Low back pain can be caused from overuse or injury to a variety of structures in the spine or surrounding muscles. Most common to bicyclists are overworked low back muscles, the erector spinae, which take a lot of stress from being in a rounded position for hours at a time. Other causes can include disc involvement, facet joint irritation or vertebrae that are not moving correctly.
How to treat it.
Treatment for low back pain differs depending on what structures are involved, but usually involves exercise and stretching as well as adjusting the seat and handlebar position to take stress off the low back. Treatment can include ultrasound, electrical stimulation, joint mobilization and massage.
After riding—lie on stomach and press up on your elbows. Hold this position as long as is comfortable, working up to 3-5 minutes. Add regular hamstring and hip flexor stretching as well as abdominal strengthening to your post-ride routine.
What is it?
The ilio-tibial band (ITB) is a tendinous band of tissue that attaches at the hip and the knee. This tissue can tighten or rub against your leg bone which the knee is not properly aligned during exercises, causing knee or hip pain.
How to treat it.
Treatment will depend on severity of the tightness. In the acute stage, rest and ice are recommended. Therapy may include ultrasound, electrical stimulation and massage, along with stretches and retraining of the quadriceps muscle.
Knee cap mobilizations, ITB stretches and VMO/quadriceps strengthening, i.e., wall sits while squeezing a ball between knees and hold up to 2 minutes.
Injury Prevention for Runners
What is it? Shin splints involve pain along the shin resulting from overuse conditions or biomechanical imbalances. Either can result in a muscle strain, tendonitis, or in severe cases, stress fractures along the shin. Contributing factors include: training errors such as a sudden increase in activity, faulty gait mechanics such as excessive Pronation, or improper footwear.
How to treat it. Treatment consists of ice, compression with ace wrap or taping and rest. Physical Therapy modalities such as ultrasound and electrical stimulation will speed the recovery. In many cases custom fit orthotics are indicated.
1. Calf Raises. Stand on the edge of a step and raise up and down slowly. Perform one set of each with your foot in 3 different positions—toes straight, in and out.
2. Calf Stretch. Perform a basic runner stretch in a lunge position with your heel on the ground. Perform with a straight knee and a bent knee.
What is it? If you feel pain near the bottom of your kneecap that generally gets worse with activities, you may have patellar tendonitis. Patellar tendonitis is an overuse injury in which microtears occur at the site of the attachment of the patellar tendon to the inferior pole of the patella.
How to treat it. In most instances, treatment consists of ice, rest, stretching, and specific exercises. Surgical debridement of the tendon is necessary on rare occasions. Ultrasound, electrical stimulation, patellar and tendon mobilizations and exercises are used by Physical Therapists to treat tendonitis.
- Quadriceps Stretch. While standing, grab your lower leg making sure the hip is extended, and then bend the knee until a stretch is felt in the front of the thigh. Hold the stretch 30 seconds. Do it twice a day, 3 times each.
- Straight Leg Raise. Lie on your back, then slowly contract the quadriceps muscle and lift the leg 12 inches. Hold for 5 seconds and lower slowly. Repeat up to 20 times.
What is it? Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia which in located on the bottom of the foot. It acts as a bow string between the heel and the metatarsal heads and keeps the foot from collapsing when body weight is put on the foot. Running and jumping activities can stretch and aggravate this tissue causing inflammation.
How to treat it. If caught early, rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications, taping or arch supports and stretching are the primary treatment. If more chronic, custom orthotics may be needed to address foot alignment faults that are contributing to the problem. Ultrasound, deep tissue massage, taping, orthotics, and specific stretching and strengthening exercises are used by a Physical Therapist to treat plantar fasciitis.
- Foot Massage. While sitting in a chair, put your ankle up on the other knee. Massage under your foot by using your hand to pull up on the big toe and the other hand to massage and stretch the bottom of the foot.
- Foot Stretch. Get on your hands and knees with your toes facing forward. Rock back on your heels and move your feet around to stretch the plantar fascia.
- Toe Strengthening. Use your toes to pick up small rocks or marbles to strengthen the intrinsic muscles of the foot.