The Benefits of Better Balance

When babies are learning to walk, their tumbles elicit smiles and claps from proud onlookers.

When you’re an adult and you stumble, it’s more likely that onlookers will be alarmed and rush to ask you if you’re okay.

If you’re lucky, the only thing that’s damaged will be your pride.

Poor balance leads to falls and, as you age, those falls can lead to broken bones and even head injuries.

Your health is important and good balance can improve longevity and mobility  –  at any age.

There’s even speculation that a link exists between balance and anxiety.

If your balance is lacking, don’t fear!

We’ve got some exercises that can help you improve and keep you on your feet!

Balance exercises

You don’t need to set aside a large chunk of time to do these exercises.

You can easily slip them into your day while you’re watching tv, talking on the phone, or just hanging around with your family.

If your struggle with balance is severe, use a chair to help until you feel comfortable.

Exercise 1: Stand on one leg, knee bent.

  • Begin with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Shift your weight to the foot you’re going to balance on.
  • Focus on a fixed object in front of you.
  • Be sure your weight is equally distributed on your standing foot, meaning the weight is held equally from big toe to pinky toe to heel.
  • When you feel ready, lift your other foot off the ground and bend your knee.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds, aiming to reach 1 minute. If you falter before the 30 seconds is up, keep repeating until you have been trying for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Exercise 2: Standing on one leg, backward.

  • Start with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Shift your weight to the foot you are going to balance on.
  • Look at a fixed object in front of you.
  • Make sure your weight is equality distributed on your standing foot

          (from big toe to pinky toe to heel), which is rooted to the ground.

  • When you’re ready, lift the other foot off the ground, reaching your leg straight behind you and point your toes.
  • Stay as upright as possible.
  • Have a chair nearby if you need it to keep from falling.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, increasing the time to 1 minute. If you falter, keep trying until the 30 seconds is up.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Exercise 3: Tree Pose

  • Start in the same way as previous exercises.
  • When you’re ready, place your opposite foot onto your heel, shin, or thigh above your knee (never place the foot on your grounded knee).
  • Your lifted knee points out to the side.
  • Focus your eyes on a point in front of you.
  • You can start out doing this against a wall if need be. Position yourself so your lifted knee can come into contact with the wall for balance support.
  • If you want to challenge yourself, put your palms together in front of your chest, or raise them in a Y formation over your head.
  • Once you can hold the pose well for 30 seconds or more, you can advance to looking up toward the sky and then to closing your eyes.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Exercise 4: One leg reach

  • Once you feel comfortable standing with one leg off the floor, reach down with your opposite hand and touch the tip of the toe of the leg that you’re standing on.
  • While doing this movement, it’s important that your knee is loose, your chest is out, and your shoulder blades are together.
  • Also, while reaching down, push your hips back. This will make your back straight and put more emphasis on your hamstring/glute area.
  • Do up to 15 repetitions on each leg.
  • If the bottom of your foot cramps, stop and do a quick foot stretch before continuing.

Exercise 5: Tie Your Shoes

  • Undo the shoelace of the shoe on the foot you’re planning to raise up.
  • While holding your balance on one foot, raise the opposite knee (and the foot with the shoe untied) toward your chest.
  • Keep your ankle flexed while reaching down toward your shoe.
  • While keeping balance, tie your shoelace without holding your shoe.
  • Bring down your foot and change sides.
  • Work up to doing this 10 times on each leg.

For more information about fitness or nutrition, contact The Well Path today!