How Taking Care of Your Ankles and Feet Helps Your Balance

Do you notice your injured ankle or foot is affecting your balance? Is persistent pain from your sprained ankle or a bunion throwing off your balance at every step? Our physical therapists at Total Performance understand how important your feet are to keeping your balance and living the life you want!

Various factors can lead to ankle and foot pain, and often these issues in the foot and ankle pain lead to additional problems elsewhere in the body. For some people, the condition affects the foot or ankle range of motion or strength, which leads to compensations affecting gait or other daily functions.

One of the most significant disruptions is the part of our nervous system that tells where the body is positioned when moving or staying still. The nervous system also directly affects your ability to balance and move normally.

Even when your pain subsides, dysfunction may still be present and lead to re-injury or chronic problems. Unfortunately, if you don’t thoroughly resolve your strength, balance, and coordination, you are more likely to re-injure, develop a new injury, or experience persistent deficits in your balance.

If you have noticed limited mobility, persistent pain, balance, and gait problems since your injury, Total Performance can help. We will determine the type of injury and provide you with the necessary treatments for healing and strategies to avoid re-injury.

Request an appointment today, and let us help you resolve your pain and restore your balance!

How pain affects your balance

Our body is a highly organized, interconnected, and interactive system capable of incredible feats of physical performance. When functioning correctly, the system\’s built-in safety features ensure our body can avoid harm. One of these systems is somatosensation, sometimes called our \”sixth sense.\”

Pain is part of the body\’s normal sensations and directly influences how the information is processed in this system. Pain, especially strong or persistent, can override other sensations our body needs to interact with our surrounding environment.

Disruptions in the somatosensation may lead to changes in your balance and how you can adjust to unexpected obstacles. Specifically, this impairment can disrupt your base of support and negatively affect your balance.

Whether you have an acute injury or a chronic condition, pain can impair other senses and disrupt your body\’s ability to balance. Balance is usually thought of in two ways, static and dynamic.

  • Static balance is the ability to maintain an upright posture with the line of gravity inside the base of support (i.e., standing still)
  • Dynamic balance is the ability to maintain stability during changes to the base of support (i.e., moving, walking, running, etc.)

Foot and ankle pain affects our body’s interaction with the ground, making it difficult to maintain balance statically or dynamically. When pain is at the forefront of your attention, it can be challenging to detect the information from the other senses that help regulate your balance.

Common conditions in the foot and ankle that affect balance

Anytime pain or an injury affects our somatosensation system, our balance is affected. The most common examples of pain and injury to our ankle and foot that affect static and dynamic balance are:

Ankle sprains: An ankle sprain is where one or more of the ankle’s ligaments are wholly or partially torn. The most common type is Inversion sprains, where the lateral ligament (outer aspect) is injured. Inadequate rehabilitation increases the chances of this injury recurrence.

Bunions: Bunions are the most common foot deformity. The big toe joint is gradually subluxed, leading to soft tissue and bony prominence on the inner aspect (medial side). Often very painful and affects the foot\’s functioning, especially while walking.

Peripheral neuropathy: Neuropathies are disorders of peripheral nerve cells and fibers resulting in changes in sensation, weakness, pain, numbness, and balance disturbances.

Injury often disrupts our ability to sense where our joint is positioned. This, in turn, affects our awareness of where and how our body\’s moving. Unfortunately, the pain will often interfere with our body\’s ability to gauge effort and match it effectively, leading specifically to the loss of balance and disruption of our overall function.

The good news is that the physical therapy at Total Performance can train these senses and restore or improve them to normal so we can resolve our balance and overall functioning!

What to expect from your physical therapy sessions

Our physical therapists at Total Performance will start with an injury evaluation and a biomechanical assessment to identify all the factors contributing to your pain or injury. This will consist of a thorough history to understand your pain and the severity of your condition. We will also identify any other weaknesses or limitations that may affect your recovery, stability.

We will use this information to develop a comprehensive program that includes targeted manual techniques, mobility work, strengthening, and any appropriate pain relief technique we deem necessary.

Next, we will focus on your strength and dynamic stability to restore your previous level of function and prevent future injuries. We will also incorporate balance and coordination exercises to stimulate the nervous system and help ensure you can tolerate any activity that comes your way!

Request an appointment at Total Performance today!

At Total Performance, our physical therapist team has proven successful in restoring balance and providing strategies to ensure you understand how to take care of your feet and ankles so you can get back to doing what you love!

Call today to request an appointment with one of our specialists!

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