Posture, Balance and Stability

Poor posture can place great strains on the body.  
Most people understand it can contribute to headaches and backaches but it can also affect balance, stability, breathing, digestion and circulation.

It is interesting to note that in parts of Scandinavia, primary-age children are taught walking and running techniques by a physiotherapist as a standard part of the school programme.  Using fitballs as seats rather than chairs or sitting cross-legged on the floor adds to the reinforcement of good posture in a child’s early years, as does the normality of walking distances to school which many in this country would find unthinkable.  The philosophy is of preventative management – long-term health with fewer chronic issues. 

Whilst a sound principle with undoubted health and financial benefits, there are many reasons why this philosophy may fail at an individual level.  Long illnesses, broken limbs or replaced joints can all affect posture and strength, and poor posture over prolonged periods, combined with the ageing proces, can create insecurity and instability. However, the underpinning of an active and healthy body will generally speed healing and help overcome and minimise these issues.

Much can be done to improve these issues by strengthening weakened muscles and improving balance systems through simple exercises.  With an aim of providing a client with a plan for recovery, remarkably rapid improvements may be achieved.  Even if long-term conditions will always create limits, appropriate activity can reduce pain levels, increase mobility and increase stability, in many cases helping a client towards a greatly enhanced quality of life.             

Relevant Qualifications:
Modern Pilates Stage 2 Core Stability and Postural Alignment 2006
Modern Pilates Certificate In Pilates and Back Care 2008
Later Life Training: Exercise for the Prevention of Falls and Injuries in Frailer Older People, 2009
Balanced Approach: The Use of Tai Chi & Chi Kung for Falls Prevention and Rehabilitation, 2014


Tai Chi: Balancing your energy
Researchers at UCLA have discovered that doing Tai Chi can promote better sleep compared with attending health-education classes that include advice on stress management, diet and
sleep habits. 

After 25 weeks, patients in the Tai Chi group reported greater improvements in self-rated sleep quality compared with the health-education group. Also, it appeared that the amount of 
benefit with Tai Chi was comparable to that with drugs, with better sleep efficiency and duration, as well as sleep quality—and no adverse side-effects (Sleep, 2008; 31: 1001–8).

These results mirror those of a previous study that compared Tai Chi with low-impact exercise. Those doing Tai Chi were more likely to improve their sleep quality compared with those doing low-impact exercise (J Am Geriatr Soc, 2004; 52: 892–900).

However, the benefits of Tai Chi go far beyond a good night’s sleep. It is a promising form of exercise for improving balance and preventing falls, a major cause of injury and even death in
older people (BMC Geriatr, 2006; 6: 6).

Indeed, it has been shown to improve the characteristics in older adults that place them at increased risk of falls such as poor balance, loss of strength, limited flexibility and fear of falling 
(Med Sport Sci, 2008; 52: 124–34). 

Eight to 16 weeks of Tai Chi training improved balance, flexibility and heart health  (Arch Intern Med, 2004; 164: 493–501), and reduced the risk of multiple falls by nearly half 
(J Am Geriatr Soc, 1996; 44: 489–97).