Want to Feel More Balanced? Start with Your Feet.

Did you know that 25% of your bones and muscles are located below the ankle? And yet our feet tend to be one of the most overlooked parts of our body, at least as far as proactive care goes. No one thinks about their feet until there’s a problem.

Due to the volume of joints and muscles of the feet, stiffness in this area of the body is one of the biggest contributors to balance problems. Your feet play a major role in the intricate systems that keeps you balanced. The more rigid your feet, the more difficult it is to balance.

One of the best places you can start to improve your balance is to improve the mobility of your feet. The more impact from the environment your feet absorb, the less work the rest of your body has to do to keep you balanced.

The first step to better foot mobility is to consider how you treat your feet daily. What kind of shoes do you wear? How much time do you spend with shoes off? How are your toes moving? Do you have foot pain? Are there caluses,...

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Need to Get Moving But Feel Overwhelmed? Start Here.

Do you realize your balance is declining, but feel lost on where to start improving it? Notice that your mobility isn’t what it used to be, but not sure how to take the first step to make it better?

We all get a little lost sometimes, especially when it comes to our health as we age. As a physical therapist, my job is to break things down into the smallest possible pieces to help get someone moving and build confidence. Taking small steps gets the ball rolling and banishes overwhelm.

Just remember, all it takes is just one step every day in the right direction. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, start with the list below to guide you in the right direction.

1. Start small and safe.

The best place to start to build balance and movement confidence is to break things down into smaller parts, perform a lot of repetitions, and set yourself up in a safe environment.

A great place to start is to write a list of all the movements you don’t feel confident doing. For...

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Video: The Best Balance Exercise

 

One of the first exercises we teach our new clients is the calf stretch. And for good reason!

We've written blog posts in the past about the importance of taking care of the health of your feet (which you can find here, here, and here). But long story short, your feet are your foundation. Improving your foot mobility is a great first step (pun intended) toward better health. 

Watch the video above to learn how to do the calf stretch. 

To set up: In this exercise, we use a half foam roll. But if you don't have a half foam roll a rolled up towel will work great! 

Take your shoes off, this exercise is best performed barefoot. Stand in front of your half foam roll (or towel) with your feet spaced pelvis width apart. Make sure your feet are aligned straight, like the cars on a tire. Look down and if they are angled outward take a minute to straighten them. Focus on maintaining this alignment throughout the exercise.

If you aren't sure about your balance, position...

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Balance: Does Your Perception Meet Reality?

 

Last summer for my 32nd birthday, I thought it would be a great idea to climb a tree. I hadn’t climbed a tree since I was very young, but it’s something I used to do all the time. So I thought nothing of it. Our front yard has a perfect climbing tree I’d been eyeing for some time.

We’ve all climbed trees as kids and felt confident in our ability to do it. The last time I climbed it was no problem and I assumed I would feel that way going into this. In fact, I thought getting myself onto the first branch would be easy. I could see a clear path to climb up a few branches beyond that.

But I think we all know where this story is going.

It turns out, climbing a tree is pretty difficult when you haven’t done it for a few decades. Not only did I need help getting up to the first low branch, once I was there I didn’t feel confident in my ability to stay balanced at all. I found myself staring at the ground, both hands on the branch, feeling as though I...

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The Rebels Guide to "Exercise"

Ever considered yourself a rebel, or maybe just want to be one?

If so, you’ve likely always hated the idea of a regular “exercise” habit. Even if you understand the health benefits, you’ve always been opposed to the regimented lifestyle of exercise.

Or maybe you’ve just always found traditional exercise boring. That’s the position I’d always found myself in until I learned about movement-based lifestyles.

Even if you’ve always hated traditional exercise, that doesn’t mean you can’t experience all the health benefits of movement.

Let’s talk about how a movement-based lifestyle is the answer for you and your rebellious lifestyle.

Why a Movement-Based Lifestyle?

Adopting a movement-based lifestyle involves customizing movement to fit your current lifestyle.

That’s right. You don’t need to change much other than your mindset and your environment to gain all...

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5 Action Steps To Promote Falls Prevention

 

We don’t often think about our balance until it becomes a problem. In my work as a therapist, I’ve treated both younger and older adults with balance problems.

Balance is a complex system, involving communication between our brain, body, and sensory systems. A decline in any one of these can quickly become problematic.

We tend to associate balance problems with aging, but there isn’t a magical age you reach in which your balance starts to decline. Instead, physical decline begins the minute you stop challenging yourself.

The benefits of maintaining and improving your balance at any age are endless. You’re more likely to be capable to continue doing the activities you love as you age. You’ll worry less about falling, and have more confidence than adults who don’t have good balance. Research has even found a strong connection between balance and brain health. The better your balance, the sharper your mind as you age.

There are small ways you can...

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5 Action Steps to Take Today to Start Aging Well

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Whether you're 15, 35, or 75 years old, newsflash... you are aging! 

Might as well take control and decide how you want to age. 

It's never too early to start to think about aging, and if you aren't happy with how you're aging it's never too late to start. 

At our clinic, we've had the pleasure of working with adults all the way up to 102 years old who report their quality of life as very high. And that is because their daily habits support their longevity. So... we've been keeping track of what these habits are so we can help others do the same. 

There are an infinite amount of actions you can take to age gracefully, but we listed out the action steps that will give the greatest impact for the effort put in.

Always remember, aging can be what you want it to be.

1. Think Positive

We probably sound...

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25 Movement Tips to Be More Active Today

Think you can’t find enough time in your day to exercise? You’re likely just missing out on opportunities to move more throughout your day without changing much.

Try out any one of these movement tips to get more action out of your day!

  1. Sit on the floor instead of the couch.
  2. Put your laundry basket on the floor and squat to fold your laundry.
  3. Squat to unload your dishwasher.
  4. Stretch your calves or mobilize your feet while you wash your dishes, brush your teeth, watch TV, drink your coffee, etc.
  5. Pull all the weeds in your yard by hand instead of using weed killers (bonus as this is better for the environment too)!
  6. Park in the back of the parking lot.
  7. Take the elevator instead of the stairs.
  8. Use less convenient appliances.
  9. Make your chores less efficient. For example, put the laundry basket in a different room than where you are putting the clothes away to get a few more steps in.
  10. Use a drying rack or clothes line instead of the dryer. This not only decreases...
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Alignment 101: Why We Teach Alignment

At Advanced Balance Clinic, we teach body alignment to help get people moving better. But there tends to be confusion around the term alignment.
 
When we refer to alignment, we mean the positioning of each of your body parts relative to each other. For example, if you are standing and you look down, where is your foot pointed relative to your hip? Is it angled out, angled in, or pointed straight forward?
 
And for most people, the first question is, "why does this matter?" It seems silly to spend so much time exploring these subtle variations of your body.
 
But it is important. And there are several reasons why.
 
The human body is complicated. When we focus on alignment, we also realize this is far from the whole picture. Take chronic pain, for example. Alignment work might be a good start for some people, but pain is more complex than meets the eye. As we've discussed in the past, research shows that chronic pain has nothing to...
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How Your Physical Health Relates to Your Mental Health

Brain health isn't a topic discussed often enough, particularly within the medical community. On the bright side, the topics of mental health and access to mental health services have come to light in the last few years. But, the aging brain is often left out of the conversation.

There are many unanswered questions about the decline in brain health with aging. The medical profession is starting to observe the differences in adults who experience brain atrophy and those who don’t. So, we're gaining some clarity. But, there's still so much we don't know.
 
The research identified some clear patterns in those who receive a diagnosis of dementia. But, keep in mind that patterns don't always give a clear cause. We know fall risk increases with increasing mental decline. We know poor mental health increases the risk of developing dementia. We know a connection exists between muscle weakness and dementia. What isn't as clear is why.
 
This is the 2nd part in a...
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