There’s a short list of things you’re likely taking advantage of right now. But don’t worry, I’m not judging; in fact, I’m doing it too. It’s only normal to breathe or blink without thinking about it, but we don’t notice our sense of balance until it’s not working like it should.
Balance is an underrated principle of our everyday functioning. It keeps us upright, allows us to walk without assistance and helps prevent injury. But there are a variety of things that can reduce our sense of balance, from both an internal and external perspective.
Luckily, there are things you can do to improve your sense of balance for the long term, and they can be done by anyone, regardless of age or ability. Incorporating balance into your new or current fitness routine will have a large payoff and now and in the long-term.
Here are just a few of the benefits of incorporating balance training into your fitness regimen:
- Body awareness is the sense of how your limbs are oriented in space, also known as proprioception. Balance training improves body awareness, which decreases the likelihood of injury.
- Balance training requires your entire body to work together, otherwise you will fall or stumble. Improved coordination during balance training will be transferred into activities in everyday life.
- Balance training promotes stability in knees, ankles, hips, and shoulders. This can prevent an array of injuries including sprained ankles and serious knee problems.
- Balance training can improve one’s reaction time. If you happen to slip or stumble when performing balance exercises, your body needs to re-balance immediately or you will fall. This in turn will improve your reaction time in everyday life.
Incorporating balance training into your exercise routine helps to maintain or improve your balance, which is needed to prevent falls and fractures. As we age, our balance can deteriorate, something we want to avoid.
In this video, I demonstrate six (6) levels of exercises that you can do right at home to improve your balance. Start with Level 1, hold for 15-20 seconds. If you feel steady and stable here, move on to Level 2. If you feel off or unsteady at any level, either back down or take your time continuing to master that level before moving on.
Level 1 – Both feet flat as close together as yo can get them so your legs are like a single pillar. Hold for 15-20 seconds.
Level 2 – Right foot in front of left (some space between feet) – a staggered stance – hold for 15-20 sec then repeat with left foot in front of right.
Level 3 – Heel to toe. Like Level 2 but this time have your back toes touching the front heel. Hold for 15-20 sec with right foot in front and then again with left foot in front.
Level 4 – Beginning to test your single leg balance with one leg standing strong, foot flat. The opposite leg will lift and rest just the toes down lightly for a kickstand. Hold 15-20 sec on each leg.
Level 5 – Don’t crush the cup! Grab a plastic cup like a Solo cup. Stand firm on one leg letting the opposite foot rest lightly on top of the cup. The goal here, you got it, don’t crush the cup by putting weight into that leg. Hold 15-20 sec on each leg.
Level 6 – You’re practically ready for the Olympic beam! Stand firm on one leg while raising the opposite foot off the ground and hold – for 15-20 sec. Or longer as you feel more comfortable and steady. You can even close your eyes for extra challenge!
A few keys to success with balance training.
- When starting out, stand alongside a counter top, wall, or chair and hold on if needed for extra stability.
- Find a fixed object or light switch several feet in front of you to keep your eyes focused on.
- Unlock your knees. Whether you are standing on 2 feet or 1, we will feel more stable, and our knee joints will take on less stress if we allow them to relax and bend a little.
Try it and let me know what you think!