What Is Balance?

Balance is the ability to maintain equilibrium against the force of gravity. It is a basic skill needed in everyday life. Your body must constantly make subtle adjustments in order to keep you from tipping over.

Try this test: stand with your feet together, arms by your side, and eyes closed. Pay attention to what you feel happening within your body. What you will notice is a constant sway pattern that occurs within the body. This is your body finding equilibrium to stay upright against the gravitational pull toward the ground.

Once you close your eyes, balance becomes much more challenging. This is because vision is one of the senses transmitting information to the brain about where and what the body is doing in space.

Although the inner ear is the balance center, the muscles and joints contribute a great deal to balance as well. The muscles need to have enough strength to support the task at hand, otherwise balance is limited. There are receptors within the joints of the human body that help with balance as well. These receptors send messages to the brain about what the joint is doing (how it is moving and how much force is placed upon it), then the brain sends a message to the muscles to respond appropriately. This is referred to as proprioception.

FACT

Proprioception is the sense of the relative position of neighboring parts of the body. Proprioception is an interoception sense that provides feedback solely on the status of the body internally. It is the sense that indicates whether the body is moving with required effort, as well as where the various parts of the body are located in relation to each other.

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