Feet First: Clinical Pearl for the Feet #5: You Can (and why you should!)Train Your Balance

I say this in class almost every time that I teach, but it is important to know, like in your heart of hearts, that you can change and improve your balance through training.

The information we rely on to maintain our balance is derived mostly from three systems: our vision, our vestibular system (inner ear), and our somatosensory information (the info arising from skin, muscle, joints and ligaments of our periphery).

Our brain uses all of this incoming information to quickly assess our balance challenges and create a descending (motor) plan to the best of its ability.

In the same way folks are fatalistic with respect to bunions, I also find a general lack of understanding and stories that keep people stuck in poor outcomes around their balance. Countless individuals have bemoaned "my balance has always been bad". This is like acknowledging always having high cholesterol- even more of a reason to do something about it! Balance is not some predetermined skill we possess. We do not inherit balance. Balance is a learned skill. We need to keep up the prerequisites for maintaining it or, like any other skill, it will degrade.

This is one of those areas where you need to proceed with caution around your current belief structures. Are your current beliefs sticky (like wet sand, clumping together)? Or are your beliefs pliable and changeable- like dry sand?

Logically, it stands to reason, that if we work on and nurture something, it will change and we will adapt. Remember, we are creatures of adaptation, and change is going on all of the time.

To improve balance, first work with any strength or mobility limitations you found in the previous clinical pearls.