Finding Balance in 2024
Welcome to 2024! If your holidays were hectic or eventful, it may feel like we’ve tumbled head-first into this brand-new year. While pressure is high to make new resolutions and overhaul life and health, now is a great time to instead talk about finding balance – physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Balance is defined as the body’s ability to maintain its center of mass over the base of support.
Many systems collaborate to create physical balance – including the vestibular system, the musculoskeletal system, the circulatory system, and the nervous system. Issues in balance can result in a higher risk of falls and injuries and can hinder everyday life. Tasks such as driving, exercising, shopping and working are more difficult when the body feels off-center. Thankfully, some tools are at your disposal if your balance is lacking.
Working from the ground up
Assess your connection with the ground. How’s your foot health? Do your feet feel strong and pain-free? Can you move your toes freely and spread them wide? Do your arches and heels give you trouble?
Here are a few suggestions to help increase foot mobility:
- Toe Spreaders – Most shoe styles keep toes in a compressed, compact position thus limiting the toes’ ability to assist with balance. Shoes with a wide toe box are ideal. However, if you are unable to spread your toes wide, toe spreaders are another good option. Toe spreaders gently stretch the muscles in the forefoot and help increase toe mobility. They can also help prevent bunions if accompanied with other exercises. Toe spreaders can be found online. Start with 2-3 minutes at first and slowly increase the time you are able to wear them.
- Tennis ball foot massage. Using a ball to roll out your feet is another way to take care of tense, tired feet. This can be done seated or standing. Place the ball under the heel and gently roll towards the toes and back again, finding areas of tension to work through.
Moving up the chain
If your feet feel healthy, let’s move upward. Are you able to stand on one foot without shifting your weight drastically, shaking or wobbling? If not, the ankles, knees or hips may have some strength or mobility needs. Weight training and mobility training are great tools to address these issues. Sometimes, just a few movement corrections and additions can result in significant balance gains.
Additionally, chiropractic adjustments can assist with proper joint alignment when that is what hinders your balance. Hip and spinal alignment are important parts of finding balance. A chiropractor can also assess if there is a leg length or hip shift issue. In these cases, orthotic shoe inserts may be prescribed as a way to support healthy movement mechanics.
Try this: using a wall for support, spread the toes wide to create a stable base, then shift your weight onto one foot and lift the other foot a few inches off of the floor. If you can hold this relatively easily, try pulling your hand away from the wall and staying steady for 30 seconds before slowly placing the raised foot on the floor and trying the other side. You may notice that one side is easier than the other. This is normal! It’s also something that is easy to work on.
Additional exercises that can enhance balance include calf raises, supported squats, and lunges.
Acupuncture and massage for vertigo and balance
Suppose your issues with balance are accompanied with feeling dizzy or having vertigo. In that case, it may be time to consider passive modalities such as acupuncture and massage. Acupuncture uses needles administered to pressure points that, when stimulated, will cause the patient to experience a reduction in pain and tension. Acupuncture also increases blood flow and reduces inflammation. Pairing acupuncture with massage to address vertigo and dizziness is also a great option for quickly seeing results.
If you feel like you’re stumbling into the New Year and are looking for help with finding balance in the Eugene, OR area, come visit us at Well Balanced Center for Integrated Care. We offer multiple modalities to choose from and will collaborate to find a care plan that works for you. We have massage therapists, acupuncturists, mental health therapists, chiropractic care and movement specialists ready to help you walk confidently into the new year.
Here is another article regarding acupuncture and vertigo.
Here is an article on strength training for long-term wellness.
Disclaimer alert: The views expressed within this article are opinions and are not meant to replace, contradict, or be substitution for the advice or guidance of licensed medical or mental health professionals.