Updated: Apr 11, 2021
There can be many causes of poor balance. Such as inner ear (vestibular) issues, some medications and medical conditions e.g. low blood pressure (hypotension). Even being dehydrated can affect your balance. But can your feet affect your balance?
In short – YES.
Poor balance could be caused by your feet?
Your feet are an incredible piece of engineering.
Your feet work in 2 ways:
The foot becomes more flexible as it’s about to strike the ground. This is great for shock absorption on heel strike.
The foot becomes more rigid and stiff to efficiently push off the ground with each step
When the structure of our feet is out, it can cause muscles ligaments tendons and nerves to function incorrectly.
Let’s look at a foot that remains loose and unlocked (more flexible) throughout the walking cycle. This causes the muscle ligaments and tendons to have to work much harder supporting feet which are overly loose and floppy. The foot type associated with this are those pronated or flat feet.
When you have a stiff foot in the walking cycle this leads to little to no shock absorption. As a result excessive shock is placed through muscles ligaments and tendons and can overstress these tissues. The foot type most commonly associated with this are those supinated or high arched feet.
In both foot types there can be a negative effect on the nerves in the feet and legs. Balance nerves (mechanoreceptors) are responsible for our balance. They send messages to the brain letting us know how feet are working and where they are in space. Not getting this feedback can reduce our balance and put us at greater risk of having falls.
So your feet can affect your balance.
A sign that our balance nerves are not working well is, if we often are tripping over small bumps on the ground (like a lifted foot path edge). Or tripping when walking up steps, often getting worse on rough and uneven ground. Even a near miss where you don’t actually fall over is an important sign that you should get this assessed by an appropriate health professional.
The best way to resolve foot dysfunction to improve balance and reduce falls risk is to diagnose and address the underlying cause. Often this can be linked to feet which are out of alignment.
Foot mobilisation therapy principles are a great way to detect the underlying cause of your symptoms and correct the wheel alignments in feet which are not functioning well.
Balance and Falls Prevention:
Falls at any age can have a huge impact, in the older population falls can have significantly effects. Even in healthy older people a fall can have very poor outcomes.
Even if balance is only in part caused by foot dysfunction, improving your foot and balance function can decrease the risk of falling!
If you can avoid that one fall where you would have otherwise seriously injured yourself such as a broken arm, hip, head injury or worse, the effort taken to improve your balance has been worth it.