Did you know that your Core and your Hormones affect your Balance???
Well, now you do and this is the low down! Deterioration in balance begins around the age of 25 and there are many reason for this, but I today, I wanted to educate you on how your Core and your Hormones play a role in this process…
THE CORE MUSCLES
You can think of the core as your foundation which consists of a few muscle groups including…
– Rectus abdominis (“abs”) at the front of your abdomen
– Internal and external obliques, in the front and side of the abdomen
– Tranversus muscles that run horizontally across your lower abdomen
– Erector spinae, the large muscles on either side of your spine
– The muscles surrounding your scapulae (shoulder blades)
– The gluteus muscles in your hips and buttocks
– The iliopsoas and quadratus lumborum muscles in your pelvis.
– The pelvic floor & diaphragm
As you can see, the core is about more than just your abs. You will not train your core to be reactive and stable by doing sit-ups! All of the muscles listed above provide stability and connectivity to and through your trunk. They link your upper and lower body and enable you to move in any direction or stand in one spot without losing your balance. Without a strong, mobile, reactive, and stable core it is hard for your legs and arms to move well. A weak or uncoordinated core can affect movements done in your daily life from getting out of bed and dressing to more complex movements in the gym.
CORE AND BALANCE
The core is your body’s balance centre, or centre of gravity. Having a strong, mobile, and reactive core allows you to control your body’s positioning and maintain an upright position along with maintaining good posture and stability. The thickness of the core and lower limb muscles is also a good indicator of balance ability in older populations. Purposefully training your body to move in new ways that disrupt and challenge your balance is hugely beneficial.
When you do exercises that throw off your centre of gravity, like standing on one leg while moving your arm, your body and brain have to work very hard to keep you stable and stop you from falling over. Your core plays a big part in this too – as the connecting “piece of the puzzle” between your hands and your feet. Any activity that you do in the gym that challenges your centre of gravity will ultimately improve your balance and that will transfer over into your daily activities outside of the gym.
PELVIC FLOOR & BALANCE
Studies have shown that a weak pelvic floor can result in decreased balance ability*.
Your pelvic floor is a key muscle of ‘The Core’, the powerhouse of your body. When any of the core muscles are compromised your body’s ability to maintain good posture and stability is affected, which then has a knock-on affect on your ability to balance. The pelvic floor cradles the organs of the lower torso and creates the base for deep felt strength, balance, and stability. This area supports the load of pregnancy and then relaxes and stretches for a vaginal delivery.
Recovering from birth is a process, and pelvic floor dysfunction shows itself in different ways.
If you have any concerns or any symptoms please visit a Women’s Health Physio.
Here are a few common symptoms of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction:
- Leaking urine when lifting, coughing, sneezing, laughing or running
- Need to go the the toilet frequently/not making it to the toilet in time
- Difficulty emptying the bladder or bowel
- Lower back pain
- Pelvic pain / sense of heaviness in the vagina
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- A prolapse
HORMONES AND BALANCE
Hormones can be a factor to consider when you have poor balance.
An increase in estrogen levels can lead to a decrease in blood sugar levels which can in turn cause dizziness because of its effects on the brain(1). Conversely, high progesterone levels can also cause faintness and dizziness(2). If you feel like your balance is affected during training it is definitely worth knowing your menstrual cycle to see if there’s a pattern.
Low progesterone levels can also cause clumsiness and loss of balance.
Oxytocin produced near the end of a pregnancy releases hormone-like prostaglandins which can also lead to hearing and balance issues. Prostaglandins3 are also instrumental in the cramping and shedding process of menstruation, which means in the week leading up to a woman’s period they can be less stable, less resilient to sudden changes of direction or level, and more susceptible to pain.
Hormonal changes during menopause can lead to heart palpitations (where the heart appears to skip a bit or beat faster). These irregular heartbeats can also cause dizziness which affects your balance(4).
Some health professionals and studies have found links with hormones and seemingly unrelated vestibular disorders(5). For example, a number of inner ear symptoms have been associated with female hormones. Women with vestibular disorders have reported various episodes or general imbalance including vertigo. Hormonal changes can be the reason for increases in tinnitus, aural fullness, ear pressure, hearing loss or changes. Women with vestibular disorders have also reported discrete episodes of vertigo, general imbalance and/or disequilibrium.
So, as you see, the core and body more generally is a complex, interrelated system. No single muscle, hormone, or body part works in isolation, and all things need to be considered if you feel like your balance is less than optimal.
Interested in more? Charlie is our go-to trainer for balance rehab, and is the author of our 6-Step Restore Your Balance course series for personal trainers. You can book a free consult with her here https://intoyou.setmore.com/charlottemay
If you’re a trainer, you can get 50% off our Restore Your Balance Series Bundle with the code: I2U50OFF. Enrol here: intoyou.teachable.com/p/restore-your-balance-series.
*Tim S, Mazur-Bialy AI. The Most Common Functional Disorders and Factors Affecting Female Pelvic Floor. Life (Basel). 2021 Dec 14;11(12):1397. doi: 10.3390/life11121397. PMID: 34947928; PMCID: PMC8704638.
3 https://www.hormone.org/your-health-and-hormones/glands-and-hormones-a-toz/hormones/oxytocin & https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3297513/