Larry A. Law
Sense of Balance
A sense of balance is very important. Elderly people with poor balance are more prone to falls. These falls can result in just scratches or bruises but also can result in much more serious fractures and even death.
Maintaining a sense of balance involves vision, the semicircular canals (the organs in the ears responsible for balance), and proprioception. The semicircular canals are three tiny, fluid-filled tubes in your inner ear that help you keep your balance. When your head moves around, the liquid inside the semicircular canals sloshes around and moves the tiny hairs that line each canal. Proprioception, also referred to as kinaesthesia, is the sense of self-movement, force, and body position. It is sometimes described as the "sixth sense". Proprioception is experienced via proprioceptors—mechanosensory neurons located within muscles, tendons, and joints. Touching your nose with your eyes closed is a good example of proprioception.
Damage to proprioceptive nerves is more common in people with poor blood sugar control. This leads to insensitivity in their hands and feet which can lead to poor balance. A person who cannot feel their feet well often describes the experience as walking around on a marshmallow. When you are unable to sense where your body is in space, then taking a fall can easily happen.
Asymptomatic strokes are small strokes in which small blood vessels or capillaries under the cerebral cortex become clogged or blocked. Sometimes these types of stroke victims can experience a slight loss of balance, unstable gait, weakness in walking, and changes in their field of vision. Often the symptoms are so mild that the person is not really aware of them and, therefore, falls can occur.
A meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal in 2010 found that people with muscle weakness had relatively high all-cause mortality. These three areas, in particular, represented cause for concern: poor grip strength (1.67 times greater risk), a slow walking speed (2.87 greater), and slow chair rises (1.96 times greater mortality rate than normal).
The most effective way to improve muscle strength is through weight training and exercise. Surprisingly, compared to aerobic exercise, weight training has the best effect on reducing and controlling waist size. Dead lifts and deep squats are excellent for exercising the lower half of the body where two-thirds of the body's muscles reside. Balance training can be enhanced by practise—walk a line on the floor or alternating standing on one leg. Of course, good nutrition is essential and sugar nutrients are critical for encouraging the generation and migration of a person's own stem cells within the bone marrow which can become any needed cell. For more information, see my book. The body can repair and improve—believe it, think it, emotionally invest in it, and physically work at it.