How much time do you devote to balance? The truth is probably not enough. While a lot of us make the time to go the gym and get in our strength training and cardio, we often neglect simple balance exercises. Incorporating balance exercises into your exercise routine is important because we encounter uneven surfaces in everyday life and having good balance can help prevent falls or injury. After all, simply walking or taking the stairs requires balance to do it effectively, and more importantly, safely. Incorporate these exercises into your daily routine to help prevent injuries related to balance issues.
These routines can be very challenging, so you may want to begin with #1 and #2, and progress to #3, #4 and #5.
1.) Stork Standing: Balance on a single leg for 30 seconds and then switch legs. Hold for another 30 seconds. Repeat this exercise three times on each leg. To make it more difficult, change surfaces that you balance on, try barefoot or hold your arms up over your head.
2.) Balance Beam Walk: Find a line to follow, whether that is a crease in the rug or part of your floor. Put one foot in front of the other and follow the line. To make this more difficult, try this exercise holding weights in both hands down at your side or walk very slowly on the line, trying to not look down.
3.) Tall Kneeling: Put a pillow down on the floor and kneel down on it. Put your arms out in front of you and alternate each arm overhead slowly. For an added challenge, try closing your eyes.
4.) Half Kneel: Put one knee down on the floor and get into a lunge position. Move your arms in a rotational position slowly, going back and forth from left to right.
5.) Single leg standing with opposite leg swings: Stand on one leg and gently swing the opposite leg forward and backward slowly. Note the small movements your balance leg does to maintain balance. For more challenge, swing the non-weight bearing leg in a diagonal plane.
Ask your Physical Therapist for specific balance exercises that can help you in your daily routine or for a balance program designed to meet your goals.
Donna Goodwin is a physical therapist with OrthoCarolina Matthews Physical Therapy with over 25 years’ experience. She encourages an active lifestyle and creative use of exercise with all her clients. She enjoys running, golf, yoga, research on healthy aging practices, reading and learning from her patients.