Life is all about balance. Any area of our lives that is out of balance ripples out, affecting other areas of our life as well. Your body and health are no exception. When your body is out of balance, you will begin to experience a myriad of problems. In addition to maintaining a balanced diet and a healthy work/life balance, you must physically be able to stay balanced.
Let me explain further. Balance isn’t just a perk to show off in yoga class; it’s the ultimate key to good health. A loss of balance is a clue, an indicator of an injury or internal problem. It’s a sign that we need to dig deeper to find the source.
When patients come to me with problems, balance is the very first thing I test. Our nervous system tells our body what to do, how to move, and how to react. The peripheral nervous system includes the nerves connected to your hands, feet, elbows, ribs, jaw, and pelvis. If this system is disrupted, it causes you to lose your strength and balance, especially in dark places or when looking at dark colors.
When I first see a patient, I test their balance with their eyes open and then again with their eyes closed or while they’re looking at a dark color. This light/dark test tells me whether or not patients have a disruption or irritation in their peripheral nervous system.
If a patient’s light/dark test indicates nerve irritation, I take them through a series of scratch/withdrawal reflexes. Unlike infants, adults don’t automatically react to someone lightly scratching on their skin, but patients with irritated nerves will withdraw from certain scratches. If the corresponding nerve isn’t injured or irritated, the patient won’t withdraw when they’re scratched there.
These scratch tests are the next clue to finding the root of balance issues. We then must trace that nerve irritation back to its origin using various reflexes until we get to the source of the problem. It’s a complicated system that on the surface doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense, but I’ve seen it work time and time again for my patients.
There’s also a connection between balance and breathing. I have found that obstructed breathing associated with nasal passage problems causes loss of balance and strength. I noticed nasal strips aided in balance and stability for patients that showed signs of obstructed breathing. It’s a fascinating connection.
By now it shouldn’t come as a surprise that balance is connected to the health of your back and spine, as well. When patients lose their balance while turning their heads, it indicates a problem with either the neck, upper or lower back, or sacroiliac (SI) joint. There’s also a connection between back pain and breathing. It’s amazing the things you can learn from the body when you know how all its parts relate to one another.
The Importance of Balance. Every day you must balance in order to keep yourself upright. You must be able to react in sudden situations. Without reliable balance, you can end up hurting yourself. This is especially important for older adults.
As you age, your bones aren’t as strong and dense as they used to be. If you’re off balance, a trip to the restroom (especially in the dark) in the middle of the night could land you in the hospital. I focus on balance so much because I feel that it’s one of the most important aspects of injury prevention.
If you feel like your balance is off… or you’re just off in general… come see me! I will listen and help you get to the source of your issues.