Balance training for the older athlete
Michael E. Rogers, Phil Page, Nobuo Takeshima. Balance Training for the Older Athlete.International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy; v.8, no.4 (2013): 517-530.
As the older adult population increases in size, the number of older adults participating in sport activities will also likely increase proportionally with a concomitant increase in musculoskeletal injuries. Age-associated functional declines in muscle strength and the sensory systems, in addition to several other issues, contribute to reductions in balance that may increase fall risk There are a variety of ways to evaluate balance and fall-risk, and each older adult should be regularly screened in order to evaluate any changes in the ability to maintain postural stability. Balance training is a useful intervention in rehabilitation of postural stability impairments as well as in training programs for performance enhancement. One scientifically-based approach is Sensorimotor Training (SMT) which can be characterized as a progressive balance training program using labile surfaces to provide adequate and safe challenges to the older athlete's balance. SMT addresses both static and dynamic components of balance as well as the multitude of systems that control balance in order to train effective strategies and elicit automatic postural responses in order to enhance postural stability. The authors believe that SMT should become part of the regular training regimen for the aging athlete. For the sport and orthopedic healthcare professional, an understanding of the physiologic changes that occur with age, the means by which balance can be assessed, and how SMT programs can be developed and implemented is crucial in addressing the growing number of older athletes that they will see.