Balance Training with the Older Adult Client

by Evan Osar |  Date Released : 30 Jan 2017

Developing a Strategy for Balance

The goal is to develop a strategy for balance that helps improve the function of the trunk in maintaining and controlling balance. Incorporating the principles of alignment, breathing, and control to improve function of the thoracopelvic canister is an effective way to develop an optimal strategy for balance. How are these principles related to improving balance and reducing the chances of falling?

  • Aligning the TPC enables the joints to be placed in the best position for loading the body, allows for proper muscle co-activation, and diminishes chances of compensations. This allows the nervous system to coordinate muscle activity to control balance both in stationary positions and throughout movement.
  • Three-dimensional breathing develops internal pressures that stabilize the TPC and activate the deep myofascial system. This provides TPC (core) stability without the need for gripping, bracing, or rigidity allowing the body to be both stabile and mobile. Achieving trunk mobility and stability allows for adaptations to sudden changes in a senior’s center of mass thereby preventing a fall.
  • Developing proper control of both static posture and dynamic balance requires coordination between the deep and superficial myofascial system. Being able to preferentially activate the deep myofascial system and layer on the superficial myofascial without resorting to a gripping or rigidity strategy is the key to maintaining that subtle balance between TPC stability, mobility and adaptability. 

For more information and applications of developing the deep and superficial myofascial system, the reader is encouraged to review the information in the following link:

Incorporating the Principles into a Balance Progression

While there are an infinite number of exercise patterns and progressions that can be used, the step/lunge pattern will be used for purposes of this article. By adjusting variables such as the amount of movement, velocity of movement, degree of support, adding resistance, or adding dynamic variables such as throwing and catching a ball, the step/lunge pattern can be used by virtually any ambulatory client.

To ensure proper development of balance, the following guidelines will apply to the exercise progression:

  • The thorax should symmetrically aligned over the pelvis and the entire TPC should be controlled over the feet
  • The hip, knee, and ankle-foot should remain aligned during both loading (eccentric) and unloading (concentric) phases of the exercises
  • The client should maintain three-dimensional breathing throughout the patterns 

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Evan Osar

About the author: Evan Osar

Audiences around the world have seen Dr. Evan Osar’s dynamic and original presentations. His passion for improving human movement and helping the fitness professionals think bigger about their role can be seen and felt in every course he teaches. His 20-year background in fitness and experience as a chiropractic physician provide a unique prospective for any audience. Dr. Osar has become known for taking challenging information and putting into useable information the fitness professional can apply immediately.
Dr. Osar is the author of The Corrective Exercise Approach to Common Hip and Shoulder Dysfunction, due to be released in the spring of 2012. He is a regular presenter at fitness conventions and the developer of the Integrative Movement Specialist™ certification.

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