Are you familiar with the connection between core strength and better balance? When the core muscles around your trunk are strong, you are less likely to experience harmful chronic conditions, including lower back pain, balance and gait disorders, and general injuries.
A stronger core also helps to keep you upright – especially as you age and face a much higher risk of falls and fall-related injuries.
If you believe you need to work on your balance, but don’t know where to start, contact us today. Our team of knowledgeable physical therapists can create a personalized core routine for you that improves your balance for years to come.
The inner and outer core muscles
What’s the first thing you picture when you hear the words, “core strength”? If you’re like most people, you might think of the abdominal muscles or “abs.” This is the part of the core we generally hear the most about in fitness culture, but there’s much more to this complex muscle group.
There are two separate groups of core muscles: the inner core and the outer core.
The inner core muscles surround your spine and work to stabilize your core. The outer core muscles work with the inner core muscles to help you move your body from point A to point B – or, in other words, help you perform most physical tasks.
The idea of “core stability,” is tied to the inner core muscles, while the idea of “core strength,” is connected to the outer core muscles. Physical therapy will assist you in strengthening both your inner and outer core muscles in order to improve your balance and mobility.
What is the connection between the core and better balance?
In your body, there are three systems in your body that help to control and maintain your balance: the visual system, the vestibular system, and the proprioceptive system.
- The visual system refers to the relationship between your eyes and brain that exists to help you see. Your eyes send messages to your brain about your position in respect to the environment around you, which helps you navigate the world and maintain your balance
- The vestibular system refers to the liquid in your inner ear that keeps you level by acting as a sort of “carpenter’s balance.” If you consistently feel dizzy, ask your doctor or healthcare provider about your vestibular system’s functionality.
- The proprioceptive system is the one that directly relates to your core. The sensory nerves that run throughout the body are known as proprioception nerves, and they help you become more conscious of your posture and the space around you.
In order to maintain optimum balance, equilibrium in all three of these systems is vital. A weak core is one element that can make you feel off-balance and cause dangerous falls down the line.
What can I expect from seeing a physical therapist?
Your physical therapist will create a personalized treatment plan for you, that takes into account your current fitness level, health goals, medical history, current pain symptoms, and more.
If your balance has prevented you from staying as physically fit as you used to be, know that our therapists will meet you wherever you are. There are many beginner core exercises that your PT can recommend to you, including the “drawing in maneuver.” This exercise is also referred to as simply “sucking in your gut.”
In order to perform this exercise, you’ll be asked to first stand up straight and find the proper pelvic position. This is done by rotating your hips forward and back to find the comfortable “middle” position. Then, draw your belly button in toward your spine. Don’t forget to breathe throughout this exercise. This movement is not designed to be restrictive, and you should be able to breathe, talk, and slowly walk around with your belly button drawn in.
If you’re at a lower fitness level, older, or recovering from a painful injury, the “drawing in maneuver” may be a little difficult at first, but it will help you gently build up your core muscles.
As you progress through your treatment plan, your physical therapist will likely recommend that you move on to more strenuous exercises. This may range from gentler workouts, such as a yoga routine, to planks, bridges, and various bodyweight exercises.
Ready to begin improving your balance today?
Strengthening and stabilizing a weak core has many health benefits, including fall prevention, a lower risk of injury, and better balance.
If you’ve been struggling to maintain your balance, or feeling the adverse effects of an unhealthy core, contact Synergy Manual Physical Therapy today to learn about your treatment options. Our team is excited to help you get started on your journey to better balance.