A core benefit of the Bluearth program, balance is the body’s ability to maintain its centre of mass over the base of support. It plays a vital role in our lives – helping us stand, walk and move around our environment without falling.
While improving our physical balance isn’t something that most of us think about (perhaps we don’t even feel like there’s anything to work on), there’s always room for improvement. Plus, when you consider the benefits of better balance, it pays to take our stability seriously.
Improving your physical balance:
- helps prevent injuries
- develops control of muscle groups
- improves strength and posture
- enhances performance during everyday tasks and physical activity
- increases your body’s ability to control itself during challenging tasks.
With these advantages in mind, here are nine activities you can do to improve your physical balance.
1. Heel-to-toe walk
Walking heel to toe is an easy way to promote good balance.
To undergo this activity, simply walk slowly in a straight line, touching your heel to the opposite foot’s toe as you go – maintaining a long spine and keeping your head facing forward. Do this for about 20 paces, using a wall for support if needed.
2. Weight shifts
Shifting your weight from side to side is another way to boost your balance.
Standing with your feet hip-width apart, lean slowly toward one leg until it’s bearing all your weight, while lifting your other leg off the ground. Hold for up to 30 seconds, then return to your starting position before repeating the process on the other side.
3. One-legged stand
Most of us are used to standing on two feet, so standing on one is a guaranteed way to improve your balance.
Start this activity by holding yourself steady on the back of a chair. Lift one foot to about calf height and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 10-15 times and then switch to the other leg for the same treatment.
Over time, as your balance gets better, you may be able to hold this position hands free.
4. Back-leg raises
Bring on the back-leg raises. With the aim to lift your back leg while standing straight, this activity works your lower back and buttocks muscles.
Hold a chair and raise one leg backward without bending your knee or pointing your toe, keeping your anchor leg slightly bent. Hold your position for 1 second. Repeat 10-15 times before moving on to the other leg.
5. Knee curl
A variation of the previous activity, hold the back of a chair with a slightly bent anchor leg and lift the other leg straight back, but this time go one step further and raise your heel toward your buttock, keeping your hips still. Hold for 1 second before slowly lowering your foot to the floor. Repeat 10-15 times and then do the same with the other leg.
6. Toe stand
Also called calf raises or heel raises, this activity strengthens your calf and ankle muscles for a balance boost.
Hold a chair or wall to keep you from falling, and stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Raise yourself up on your tiptoes and hold for 1 second before lowering. Repeat 10-15 times. Have a rest before commencing another set.
Squats are a surefire way to strengthen your leg and pelvis muscles.
Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips with your toes pointed forward. Bend your knees and send your bottom backwards, as if you’re sitting down. Keep your weight in your heels and your arms either out in front of you or on your thighs. Raise back up and repeat 10 times.
If that proves too challenging, you can take a different approach – try to slowly sit in a chair from a standing position without using your hands.
8. Side steps
Make like a crab and step sideways to build those hip and thigh muscles.
Make your way to one end of a room sliding sideways using small steps that move your legs apart and then together. Return on the opposite side to target both sides of the body.
9. Back extension
It’s time for some floor time to strengthen your back and spine.
Lie on your stomach with your forehead facing the floor and arms at your sides, palms facing up. Continue to look down (looking up will strain your neck) as you slowly lift your head and arms 1-2 inches off the floor. Hold for several seconds and then lower down gently. Repeat 10 times.
Balance is vital for our everyday function, so boosting it is always a good thing. As you can tell, there are lots of balance activities that can improve your stability. Finding the ones that work for you and doing them regularly is a great way to keep your balance in check.