3 ways to improve your balance and avoid injury
Regardless of age, strong balance is important to lead a healthy, full and active life. Yet over time we become less agile and less sturdy. Falls, and fractures due to falls, become common as we age. They can be debilitating and life-threatening.
One of the ways you can avoid a fall, or other accident due to poor balance, is to engage in exercises that shore up your balance. Both static (still) and dynamic (moving) balance is key for functional living.
In today’s video, Tema from Potentia Personal Training will take you through three great balance exercises that increase the challenge as you go along.
For the first two exercises, all you’ll need is your willing and able body; but for the third balance exercise you’ll need a playground ball. Engaging the stable leg exercises for static balance and the moving exercises shown here for dynamic balance will do wonders for your overall balance.
Balance Exercise 1 – Balancing on one leg
Set a timer for 10 seconds and then simply stand with feet shoulder width apart. Now bend one knee to raise a leg off the floor and hold it.
Try to relax your shoulders to help find your balance. You also want to be relaxed so you can breathe calmly and evenly. Tight shoulders and erratic breathing throw off balance.
TIP 1 – Some people are less stable than others, especially when standing on one leg. If this is you, you can stand behind a chair or next to the sofa or counter and hold on until you find your balance. Then you can touch down on it to regain balance if you feel you are losing it.
TIP 2 – If you don’t want to use a chair or other structure for balance you can touch your toe down to catch yourself and then re-lift the leg again.
Hold you right leg up for 10 seconds then put it down, take a breath, and raise and hold your left leg for 10 seconds. See how often you can extend the time and how far you can go!
Balance Exercise 2 – One leg extend and flex
This balance exercise ups the ante because it challenges your dynamic balance while extending your leg forward and flexing your leg to the side. This creates a long lever and fulcrum change to help you adjust balance when stepping on different surfaces and doing different activities.
As in Exercise 1, stand upright, relax and bend one knee to raise that leg. Now point your leg forward, retract it back and then flex it to the side and back to the original knee-up position.
Tip 1 – Look ahead and find a spot to gaze into to help find and maintain your balance.
Tip 2– You can move one or both of your hands or arm to create a nice counter balance while moving your leg.
Try for a set of 10 repetitions on the right leg, rest a moment, then repeat on the left side and see how you do. Again, it is ok to use a structure to help regain balance or to touch your foot down as needed. No sense in getting hurt falling while doing balance-enhancing exercises!
Balance Exercise 3 – One leg ball bounce
This last balance exercise is terrific because it trains your balance while doing something and shifting your weight. Grab any mid-sized ball you might have around. It could be light like the one in the video or heavier like a basketball.
Stand up and raise one leg as before. Now use both hands to bounce the ball while keeping your leg in the air. Try for a set of 10.
This one is trickier than you think because your gaze cannot be focused on one point since you need to follow the ball. There is also a weight and energy shift creating the need for upper and lower body coordinated dynamic balance.