Finding Balance and The Role of Chiropractic Care

Balance is important to overall health and function… which is why it is included as one of our core tests in our Bio-Structural Examination.

At The Powerhouse, our approach to health is different than traditional chiropractors, medical doctors, physiotherapists… or really any other Western medicine or allied health professional.

The reason for this is because of our Life By Design approach to health. Our goal is not to treat symptoms but to improve function and the root cause of many common problems people face in today’s world.

In our comprehensive Bio-Structural Examination, we take over 20 different functional measurements of people’s spine and nervous system function.

This helps us identify where problems exist and helps us determine a plan of care for them to start to heal and get better.

One of the functional tests we perform is a balance test, as balance can tell us about our overall health and function.

Balance can provide insights into an individual’s health, particularly their musculoskeletal and neurological well-being.

1. Musculoskeletal Health

Balance relies on the coordination and strength of various muscles and joints in the body, particularly in the legs, core, and feet. Poor balance can be an indicator of underlying musculoskeletal issues, such as muscle weakness, joint stiffness, or impaired proprioception (the body’s sense of position and movement). Conditions like osteoarthritis, muscle imbalances, or injuries can affect balance.

2. Neurological Function

Balance requires integration and communication among various sensory systems, including the inner ear (vestibular system), vision, and proprioception. Any disruptions or impairments in these systems can affect balance. Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or peripheral neuropathy can impact balance control and coordination.

3. Cardiovascular Health

Circulatory and cardiovascular health can influence balance. Conditions like low blood pressure or poor circulation can lead to dizziness, lightheadedness, and a sense of imbalance. These symptoms may be experienced when standing up quickly or during prolonged periods of standing.

4. Medications and Side Effects

Certain medications can affect balance and increase the risk of falls. Medications used for pain management, sedatives, blood pressure medications, or those that cause drowsiness may impact balance. It’s essential to be aware of the potential side effects of medications and discuss any concerns with a healthcare provider.

5. Age-Related Changes

As we age, natural changes in the body, such as a decline in muscle mass, reduced joint flexibility, and altered sensory function, can affect balance. Age-related changes can increase the risk of falls and impact overall balance.

While balance can provide valuable insights into health, it is essential to consider other factors and undergo a comprehensive evaluation for a holistic understanding of overall well-being.

Balance is important to everyday people for several reasons:

1. Injury Prevention

Having good balance helps prevent injuries in daily activities. It allows individuals to maintain stability and control their body movements, reducing the risk of falls, slips, and other accidents. By being able to adjust to changes in surface or unexpected movements, people with good balance are less likely to sustain injuries during everyday tasks.

2. Functional Movement

Balance is essential for performing basic functional movements, such as walking, climbing stairs, reaching for objects, and standing up from a seated position. These activities require coordination, stability, and proper weight distribution, all of which are supported by good balance. Having a solid foundation of balance enables individuals to carry out these tasks efficiently and with reduced effort.

3. Posture and Alignment

Balance plays a crucial role in maintaining good posture and alignment. When the body is properly balanced, it allows the spine to be aligned correctly, reducing strain on the muscles, joints, and ligaments. Proper posture promotes optimal organ function, breathing, and overall physical well-being.

4. Performance in Physical Activities

Whether it’s participating in sports, recreational activities, or hobbies, having good balance improves performance. Many sports and physical activities require balance control, agility, and quick reactions. Having a well-developed sense of balance can enhance coordination, stability, and overall performance in these activities.

5. Energy Efficiency

Efficient balance allows for better weight distribution and optimal use of muscles. When balance is compromised, unnecessary muscle tension and compensation patterns can occur, leading to increased fatigue and reduced energy efficiency. Good balance minimizes the strain on muscles and allows the body to move more efficiently, conserving energy for daily tasks.

6. Confidence and Independence

Having good balance instills confidence and promotes independence in daily life. When individuals feel secure in their balance abilities, they are more willing to engage in various activities without fear of falling or getting injured. This confidence translates into increased participation, improved mobility, and a higher quality of life.

7. Cognitive Health

There is growing evidence of a connection between balance and cognitive function. Research suggests that activities that challenge balance, such as balance training exercises or practicing activities like yoga and tai chi, can have positive effects on cognitive abilities. Engaging in balance-related activities stimulates the brain and promotes overall brain health.

While balance is often associated with specific populations like older adults or athletes, it is important for everyone, regardless of age or fitness level.

Improving and maintaining balance through targeted exercises, physical activity, and an active lifestyle can have significant benefits for everyday people, contributing to overall well-being, injury prevention, and an improved ability to perform daily tasks efficiently.

Ways to Improve Balance

Improving balance involves a combination of exercises, activities, and lifestyle factors. Here are some effective ways to enhance balance:

1. Balance Training Exercises

Engaging in specific exercises that target balance can significantly improve your stability. Some examples include:

  • Standing on one leg: Practice standing on one leg for increasing durations. Once you feel comfortable, try closing your eyes to challenge your balance further.
  • Heel-to-toe walk: Walk in a straight line, placing the heel of one foot directly in front of the toes of the other foot.
  • Balance board exercises: Use a balance board or wobble board to challenge your balance by maintaining stability on an unstable surface.
  • Tai Chi and Yoga: These practices incorporate flowing movements, weight shifting, and postures that promote balance, strength, and flexibility.

2. Strength and Resistance Training

Strengthening the muscles that support balance is crucial. Focus on exercises that target the lower body, including the hips, thighs, and calves. Resistance training with weights, resistance bands, or bodyweight exercises can be beneficial.

3. Core Exercises

A strong core provides stability and supports balance. Incorporate exercises that target the abdominal, back, and pelvic muscles, such as planks, bridges, and yoga poses like the boat pose or bird dog.

4. Flexibility and Range of Motion

Maintain or improve joint flexibility and range of motion. Stiff joints can affect balance. Incorporate stretching exercises for major muscle groups and joint mobility exercises into your routine.

5. Cardiovascular Exercise

Engaging in regular aerobic activities, such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming, improves cardiovascular health and overall fitness. It indirectly supports balance by enhancing muscle strength, endurance, and coordination.

6. Posture and Alignment

Maintain good posture and proper alignment, as it influences balance. Practice sitting and standing with proper spinal alignment, and be mindful of maintaining an upright posture during daily activities. Chiropractors can also help address core underlying issues with your posture and alignment.

7. Sensory Training

Enhance your sensory systems involved in balance. Incorporate activities that challenge your visual perception, proprioception, and vestibular system. Examples include practicing balance with eyes closed, walking on different surfaces (such as when hiking), or using balance aids like foam pads or stability balls.

8. Home Safety

Create a safe environment at home to minimize the risk of falls. Remove clutter, secure loose rugs, improve lighting, install grab bars in bathrooms, and address any tripping hazards.

9. Healthy Lifestyle

Maintain a healthy lifestyle overall, including a balanced diet, adequate hydration, and sufficient sleep. These factors contribute to overall well-being, energy levels, and optimal physical function, which indirectly impact balance.

10. Professional Guidance

If you have specific concerns or underlying health conditions that affect balance, consider consulting with a healthcare professional, such as a physical therapist. They can provide personalized assessments, guidance, and exercises tailored to your needs.

Remember, consistency and gradual progression are essential when improving balance.

Start with exercises that match your current abilities and gradually increase the challenge over time.

If you have any underlying health conditions or concerns, consult with a healthcare professional before starting a new exercise program.

Chiropractic Research on Balance

Research exploring the effects of chiropractic care on balance is limited, and the available evidence is not robust enough to make definitive conclusions. However, there are a few studies that suggest chiropractic interventions may have positive effects on balance. It’s important to note that further high-quality research is needed to establish more concrete evidence in this area.

A 2016 study from the NZ College of Chiropractic showed that 12 weeks of chiropractic care had a positive impact on certain aspects of balance in seniors.

One study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics in 2009 examined the impact of chiropractic adjustments on balance in older adults. The study found that participants who received chiropractic adjustments demonstrated improvements in balance compared to a control group.

Another study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine in 2010 investigated the effects of chiropractic adjustments on balance and stability in athletes. The study found that athletes who received chiropractic care exhibited improvements in balance and stability measures compared to a control group.

These studies suggest a potential positive association between chiropractic care and balance improvements.

However, it’s important to interpret these findings cautiously due to the limitations of the research.

Furthermore, it’s worth noting that balance is a multifaceted aspect of health influenced by various factors, including musculoskeletal, sensory, and neurological components.

A comprehensive approach that combines chiropractic care with other interventions, such as exercise, physical therapy, and sensory training, may be more effective in addressing balance-related issues.

Should I see a chiropractor just for my balance issues?

At The Powerhouse, we consider balance as an indicator of your overall health and function.

Balance is likely to be restored as your overall health improves by following the Life By Design blueprint for health.

As always, our process begins with a free consultation to review your case and make sure you’re in the right place.

From there we take you through our process to improve your baseline function which ultimately leads to symptomatic improvement, better health, and improved quality of life.

If you think we’re the right fit for you then we invite you to schedule your free consultation and we look forward to meeting you!

Dr Brian Lanoue is a Life By Design Chiropractor, blogger and speaker on achieving extraordinary health. It is Brian’s passion and mission to empower you, your family and your community to live extraordinary lives. Brian co-owns The Powerhouse Chiropractic in beautiful Vancouver, BC, Canada with his wife Thea.