are my "balance" problems just weak ankles?

I’ve got really bad balance. Any sudden change of movement and I come very close to falling over. More than once, I have lost my balance walking down the hallway and hit the wall with my shoulder. I fell on my ass while standing in a group waiting for a picture to be taken.

So my friend thinks I have inner ear problems. Entirely possible. But I was a gymnast as a kid, and I played sports in middle school, so it seems really odd that all of a sudden I’ve got inner ear problems.

But today, while doing yoga, I decided to try the balance pose. I’ve done it before, but, not having great balance, can’t hold it very long. Basically you stand on one leg while keeping the rest of your body parallel to the floor. As I was trying not to fall over, I noticed that the ankle of the leg I was supporting myself with was shaking like mad. It was kind of wiggling back and forth. Now, I know I have weak ankles (I think I might have broken one of them a few years back) so I got to thinking, could this be the cause of my rather embarassing losses of balance?

Weak ankles certainly wouldn’t help.

It’s a little tough to give advice on how to fix them, because there are a whole lot of moving parts in the lower leg, and any one of them could be disproportionately weak. If you’re concerned, go see a PT, as they can diagnose specific problems and offer solutions.

So you were a gymnast and athelete in high school; what has that got to do with inner ear trouble now? I can’t believe that the trouble is your ankles (or lower legs) since you didn’t notice them giving out on you when you fell. Go to an ear, nose, throat doctor.

:smiley: [sup]Until you do you won’t be seaworthy[/sup]

When I went to a physical therapist for my back and hip, I mentioned that my ankles had been sprained many times. She said she wasn’t surprised. The same thing that screwed up my back was ruining my balance and endangering my ankles. There’s supposed to be a curve in the back from your waist to your tailbone (making your butt stick out.) Balance, she explained, is centered in the pelvis, and if that curve is not there, you’ll fall down a lot and turn your ankles a lot. Since I changed my posture, I haven’t fallen on the ice in a winter and a half.

Do some half-push-ups. Imagine your pelvis glued to the floor, and push up your torso without raising the pelvis. After a while, the curve becomes a habit, and your balance will improve.

Or not. I’m not a doctor, and your problem may be something else.

Could be your ankles or your ears.

I broke one of my ankles, had surgery, was in a cast for about 3 months. It took a while to walk properly again, and even then I couldn’t balance at all on the “broken” ankle. It took years for all the muscles in that foot to get back to normal.

Bad ankles will do it. I’ve sprained each of mine fairly badly (total of 24 months in those strap-on boots), and not only my balance got significantly worse, my doc diagnosed that as the cause. I asked if there were exercises, and they put me in an ‘ankle class’ for a bunch of strengthening (mostly) and stretching exercises, and it’s better.

PS, when you come out of the boot you wore on one ankle for 16 months and just start blissfully walking, it turns out there is a high % likelyhood of your immediately spraining the other ankle. They tell you this afterwards. Grump.

IANAD but I would be more likely to suspect middle or inner ear problems than just ankles, especially if you are bumping into walls. You could try a simple test by walking in a dark room (or even closing your eyes) and see if that makes it worse.

The thing with vestibular problems is that they can be quite pronounced, but we compensate somewhat by ‘overcompensating’ with our vision, and (if the problem is just in one ear) with our other ear.

Go have some testing done.