Balance Exercises After a Stroke

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Regaining your balance after a stroke is one of the most valuable things that can help improve your quality of life. Balance is often impaired after a stroke because balance requires the interaction of several different regions of the brain (especially the brainstem), eyes, spinal cord, nerves and muscles. In fact, many people who experience great neurological improvement after a stroke still have a nagging sense of being ‘off balance’.

You might experience that sensation as unsteadiness, wooziness, shakiness, or even dizziness.

The good news is that because balance is controlled by so many parts of the body, there are a variety of methods you can use to strengthen your balance. Often, you can boost your muscle strength or tone to compensate for loss of balance caused by injury to areas of your brain.

Modified Yoga

Yoga is the classic method for building your sense of equilibrium. However, you might not be ready for extreme yoga moves that suit a yoga master. Yoga has been shown to help in stroke recovery.

Placing your hands and knees on the floor while you hold up your body builds your balance. You can start by doing this move for 30 seconds per day and then working your way up by adding 10 seconds each day until you reach 2 minutes at a time. Make sure to place pillows or another soft support under your knees to avoid too much pressure on your knees.

Sitting Challenges

While sitting, rest both legs on a footrest or table in front of you. Lift one foot off the footrest for 10 seconds and then, after resting for about a minute, do the same with the other foot. Repeat this activity daily by adding 10 seconds each day until you can hold each foot up for 1 minute at a time.

A similar exercise using your arms can help build your balance. While sitting, hold one arm up in front of you for 20 seconds. Repeat on the other side and increase by 10 seconds each day until you reach 2 minutes per arm.

Exercises with Your Eyes Closed

While sitting with good support, raise both hands straight up for 10 seconds with your eyes closed. Repeat daily, increasing your time by 10 seconds each day until you reach 2 minutes at a time.

Power Movements

While sitting in a chair at a table, rest both of your elbows on the table. Lift one elbow at a time for 10 seconds. Repeat daily, increasing by 10 seconds each day until you reach 1 minute per arm.

Walking Tools

If you experience difficulty with your walking because of balance problems after a stroke, use a walker or a cane to ensure that you feel steady. Count how many steps you can take comfortably. Make sure that you take that number of steps while using your walking tool each day. After a week, add 10 steps to your daily routine and increase your waking goal by 10 steps each week.

Continue to use your waking tool until you feel that your balance has improved enough that you no longer need it. Once you improve, make sure to get reevaluated by a physical therapist so that you can obtain a different walking tool that is less cumbersome or provides less support.

 

Loss of balance after a stroke is not as easy to measure as some other problems such as weakness. However, loss of balance can inhibit you from participating many of your favorite activities. The only way to improve your balance is to incorporate safe balance- building activities into your day. Repetition and practice using short exercises is the most effective method of building your balance after a stroke.

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