Tips to Improving Balance
Balance training is an often overlooked modality, but it should be an integral part of your Age Management Program. Improved balance and agility are important in reducing the risk of falling and improving your body’s ability to react to stimulus changes. The great thing about improving your balance is that it can require little extra time out of your day. I have compiled a list of simple ways to improve balance utilizing some everyday activities as well as some more advanced techniques designed to deliver higher levels of balance. .
- Balance on one leg while performing daily activities. Remember to keep the knee slightly bent. (brushing teeth, cooking, combing your hair)
- Pick up objects while standing on one leg. This may not sound advanced at first but be sure to have something nearby to hold on to just in case of an accidental fall. (newspaper, shoes, pen, etc)
- Stand on one foot while you are waiting on the microwave to finish heating your food.
- Tandem walking through your house as if you were walking on a tightrope. Walk by placing the toe of one foot touching the heel of the other foot, then place the lagging foot at the toe of the front foot. Repeat until you reach your destination.
- Stand on one leg while watching your favorite television program.
- Time yourself while standing on one foot. A good goal is 30 seconds per foot. Keep track so you can see how you progress each month.
- Stand with your feet together, eyes closed and allow your ears to increase your special awareness.
- Strength training helps with balance. Make sure your strength training program includes exercises for the muscles in the hips, glutes, low back, abdominals, and core.
More advanced Techniques
The following techniques are more advanced and should be used by those who have an above average level of balance and are committed to spending additional time on improving balance.
- Practice any of the above listed techniques while closing your eyes.
- Tight rope walking on a curb outside.
- Single leg balance reach- This exercise is performed while standing on one leg and extending the raised leg a few inches in front of your body, then returning to the starting position. Repeat this 10-20 times. Different variations include extending the raised leg to four points such as a clock face 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00. This can also be done with the eyes closed.
- Performing resistance training on a single leg. (Single leg bicep curl)
- One leg Stand with head turned to the right or left. Switch legs.
- Utilizing balance tools (dyna discs, BOSU ball, half foam rolls)
- Figure 8 walking. Walk in a figure 8 more and more quickly, with the 8 getting smaller and smaller.
- Tai chi