Having good balance is possible as a result of how your vision, muscles, tendons, joints and organs in the internal ear work together.
The American Physical Therapy Association explains that good balance depends on:
- The brain stem, which processes sensory information and, together with the other parts of the brain, helps us to understand the sense of balance.
- Eye movement, which helps keep the objects we see stable.
- Vision, which allows us to see where the head and body are located in relationship to our surroundings.
- Special sensors found in the muscles, tendons and joints that are sensitive to movement and pressure. These help the brain understand how the feet and legs are proficient in relation to the ground and how the head is positioned in relation to your chest and shoulders.
- The balance organs and the internal ear tell the brain about movements and the position of the head.
- The brain stem also receives information from other parts of the brain called the cerebellum and the cerebral cortex. This information mostly comes from previous experience that affected your sense of balance. Your brain controls your balance by applying the experiences that are most relevant to it to a particular situation. For example, in the dark, when your vision is reduced or may be inaccurate, the brain relies more on the signals it receives from its legs and the inner ear.
(Related article: Early detection of balance problems)
If a person feels off-balance or dizzy, it is because one of these symptoms may be failing them. Physical therapists can diagnose these types of problems and teach patients exercises that can help their bodies to better coordinate each of these functions.