Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Feet are Important to Balance

Dr. David Arkin (podiatrist) proudly poses next to his poster of the Hilo Marathon.

   The feet are very important in balance and posture because they are loaded with proprioceptive sensors. These sensors are constantly sending signals to the brain, which then sends signals back down the spinal column to the muscles telling them when to contract and when to relax. Every movement from standing to walking, running and jumping is controlled by this system.

   Podiatrists are specially trained to evaluate the structural integrity of the arches of the feet to see if they are a contributing factor to postural stress. Supporting the arches of the feet with a custom-made orthotic device (insert) that you wear in your shoes has been shown to block the abnormal foot motions that create a twisting stress in the knee, hip, pelvis and spine and that improves balance and posture. The messages sent from the feet to the brain are done so more efficiently when the arches are properly supported.

In addition there are certain activities that promote balance and don’t require any special equipment:

  Begin by standing on one leg for 30 seconds and then shift to the other side. Practice this until you can consistently stand on each leg without losing your balance.
  Stand on one leg with your arms crossed for 30 seconds and then do the same while standing on the other leg. Crossing the arms adds complexity to the amount of information going to the brain from the sensors in the muscles and joints.
  Stand on one leg with your eyes closed for 30 seconds. (Be sure you are in an area where you can support yourself if needed. Stand next to a doorway or have a chair available to reach out to for support.) Repeat with the other side. Closing the eyes increases the difficulty of the exercise by removing one of the systems of balance.
  Stand on one leg, close your eyes and cross your arms for 30 seconds. Repeat with the other side.

Talk to your doctor about the importance of balance and proper posture, and how the two of you can work together to help maintain both for a lifetime.

June 20, 2010 Posted by | Health and Fitness | , , , | 1 Comment