Today, scientists are still interested in the components of balance and what keeps a person’s body upright while sitting or standing. Several systems contribute to balance, and researchers have looked at the many facets with each involved system and how those facets relate to other functions in the body.
As we change positions with our bodies, our center of gravity also changes. A change in posture creates a change in force, and the body’s center of gravity must shift to compensate for the change. Balance capability is an important part of daily life, and it is much more complex than most people assume. One researcher proposed that balance is a key component of physical fitness. When you lose your balance, you fall down. Most people can make an appropriate response to regain balance and get up. However, this is not always the case. Some people may not be able to get back up easily or at all.
Dynamic balance is the type associated with reactive movement. Static balance is the type that relates to remaining upright or keeping posture. This is accomplished through somatic sensations and vision controlled by your cerebellum.
In one study, the static balance differences between young and middle-aged adults were compared. The participants were screened beforehand to ensure that they had similar levels of activity. None of the participants showed signs of problems with movement of their lower limbs, and they did not have specific diseases affecting this region. The participants were also screened based on similar weights and heights.
Each subject stretched and exercised lightly to warm up before the test. Testing procedures were uniform for both groups. Each participant’s balance was tested with standing force for five seconds. They had to stand with their eyes closed for one test and had to stand while keeping their eyes open for the other test. Researchers used software to analyze and compute the results.
The results of the study showed that young adults had better balance with eyes opened and with eyes closed when compared to the middle-aged group. The young adults scored better for balance when their eyes were open than when they were closed. The same was true of the middle-aged group. However, the differences between the two groups were not large enough to concern researchers. The researchers hypothesized that the differences in balance capabilities between the two groups were largely due to changes in posture. As people age, their posture typically starts to deteriorate.
Another consideration pointed out in this study was whether adults focused on a fixed point when they were standing with their eyes open. Researchers believed that the young and middle-aged adults who focused on a specific point did better on the test than those who did not focus on a fixed point. They recommended using a fixed point for all participants in future research when measuring static balance.