BALANCE & GAIT TRAINING

Balance & Gait Disorders

 

Most of the time balance is something that many people take for granted for the bulk of their life. Early on, as young infants are first learning how to become toddlers, we cheer and celebrate as they first learn to maintain their balance. We focus on learning how to develop balance in a chair, and on a bicycle. Eventually, as life moves forward, balance becomes something a bit less reliable. We need to work to stay balanced and able to remain on our own two feet. It is often later in life when balance begins to falter, that we realize just how much we took the ability to stand on our own two feet without much effort or difficulty far too much for granted.

Loss of balance will happen to even the strongest of individuals. For some, this means spending time in a wheelchair or requiring a walking stick to help move around. For others, it is merely a short-term problem that develops following an injury. Still, other individuals, balance issues develop as a result of a neurological concern, as is the case with balance disorders. Issues like vertigo can prevent you from ever feeling truly stable on your feet. When this occurs, it is important to focus on regaining your balance by concentrating on improving your gait.

Bad falls are a constant worry for seniors and others who have physical challenges. And those worries aren’t unfounded. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths and serious health problems in the United States.

 

Gait Training and Balance Therapy

 

The pace and style with which you walk are referred to as your gait. When you need to improve your walking skills, it is important to look into gait training. This is something that many people have to do after a foot or leg injury, but it is also very common among athletes. Runners especially use gait training as a way to improve their leg and foot movement to increase stability and pace while running. Your gait and your ability to maintain balance while moving are interrelated—you can’t master one without focusing on the other. Physical therapy helps you master these skills to decrease your risk of injury, while at the same time increasing your confidence and independence.

There are several factors that may impact your ability to maintain balance. One of which is muscle atrophy and reflexes. In some situations, it isn’t an injury that holds you back from being able to move easily, but instead chronic weakness that may have developed as you recovered from an injury, or just as a result of the aging process. For many, loss of balance stems from the feeling of “running out of steam.” The increased fatigue means that you are more likely to injure yourself, creating a negative feedback loop of imbalance. Slow reflexes, poor posture, and fatigue can all make moving around far more difficult than it really is.

Improving Balance

Your ability to maintain balance is dependent on far more than a pair of healthy feet and quality shoes. Your ability to balance is connected to much of your nervous system, and beyond. Each of the following body parts play a role in your ability to stay balanced:

  • Inner ears
  • Eyes
  • Joints
  • Muscles
  • Nervous system
  • Cognitive functions

Therapy that improves gait and balance works with all of these systems to keep them functioning in harmony.

Gait & balance training has a range of benefits, with avoiding injuries being at the top of the list. Beyond lessening your chances of falling or feeling dizzy, you’re also more likely to feel confident with your footing. In addition, those aches and pains from poor posture are likely to decrease as well.

 

Physical Therapy for Balance & Gait Training

Physical therapy is the most effective tool for improving balance and gait training. Working with an experienced physical therapist can help you to regain your strength and footing by adopting new strategies regarding movement and posture. Targeted exercises can help you feel more confident and aware on your feet, and improved strength to the surrounding muscles will reduce fatigue and thereby lessen your chance of injury via fall.

The first thing to expect when meeting with a physical therapist for balance and gait training is a complete evaluation. You will be asked to walk, and notes will be taken concerning your foot placement, pace, and step style. Potential problems with your strength and posture will be identified, and then a strategy will be developed to determine which exercises will be best for your needs. Simple movements to test balance are also part of the assessment. Together, these basic evaluations point us in the direction of what to focus on in terms of therapy.

Hip and ankle weakness often leads to balance problems, as does poor posture. Strength and flexibility movements can help counteract these problems. These are often as simple as leg lifts while seated in a chair, or “knee marching.” We may also have you practice standing on one leg, walking heel-to-toe, or tracking the movement of your thumb with your eyes as you move it in various positions.

If you feel you may have the symptoms of visceral fascia dysfunction, feel free to set up a detailed evaluation with one of our trained Strain and Counterstrain therapists.

We would love to hear from you!

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(509) 325-9144

  • Andrea is amazing! I have been working with her to treat my chronic migraines for six months now. She is one of the only people who have made a noticeable difference for me. And I’ve tried everything. She is so friendly and helpful. She goes out of her way to work with you and your issues. The whole DB Team is wonderful. I can’t recommend them enough.

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    The Beef
    5/08/2019

    Andrea and the team at Dynamic Bracing are nothing short of incredible! Their holistic approach to patient care considers the whole person, not just isolated body parts. They are experts at using strain/counterstrain techniques to allow the body to heal and return to, or finally achieve, optimal functioning. Their model enables them to identify the source of the issue, versus treating random symptoms. I have tried chiropractic, massage therapy, and traditional physical therapy to heal my back and joints before I was introduced to the team at Dynamic Bracing. No other treatment has come close to giving me the instant relief that this has. If you are on the fence about going, I can assure you you won’t be disappointed. Their office is beautiful, clean, and tastefully decorated, (which I appreciate...it kind of has a spa feel to it). The only regret I have is that I didn’t know about them sooner!

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    Heather Connor
    5/15/2019

    Since treatments I've had reduced pain and have been able to sleep through the night. Andrea and Becky provided treatments but the entire staff is professional and caring. I can move better and have put off surgery for the time being.

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    Russelle Mazulo
    5/28/2019
  • Great place with cutting edge advanced techniques. Also not money hungry like some of clinics in town. See Andrea if you can. It's worth the wait.

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    Steve Wells
    1/02/2020

    The office staff are very welcoming and the 2 therapists I've seen are excellent. I really like the strain/counter strain modality they use. I've experience a lot of physical therapy and my results are much better with this technique. They also make use of the BEMER technology for increased circulation/blood flow to support treatment results.

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    Elizabeth Pike
    5/28/2019

    Before I met Andrea, I was receiving counterstrain therapy at a different location. When that therapist retired, she recommended me to Andrea, and I haven't looked back! Nobody else has been able to so effectively treat my wide range of issues (everything from hypermobility to severe neck issues caused by a car crash) with such a friendly caring attitude! You can tell she truly cares about the health and well-being of all of her patients, and I highly recommend her to anybody seeking physical therapy or even pain relief from any issue. You won't regret it!

    I have been going to her for over five years now. Her style is to use strain and counterstrain techniques combined with strengthening exercises to best stabilize and strengthen your body. She listens to each of your concerns and can treat both the entire body and/or just a specific area. It is fascinating to feel the instantaneous relief as she works on me, and I always walk out the door feeling 10 times better than I walked in.

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    Shannon H
    10/04/2019