7 exercises to improve your balance
While it may not sound exciting, striving for balance in our everyday lives promotes a serious array of benefits. Balance training is important because balance is literally a part of everything we do, from walking to running to swimming to bike riding to standing still, and keeping our balance as we grow older will help us avoid falls and bone fractures. We can’t expect to be good at what we don’t practice, so we chatted to exercise physiologist William Alexander to share his top exercises to help you improve your balance and coordination.
Standing on two feet, lift your right knee up straight in front of your body and reach across your body with your left hand to tap yourself on the knee, hold for one second at the top before returning to the ground. Swap sides for 2 sets of 10 reps.
TOO EASY? After you’ve tapped your opposite knee and hand together, bring the foot of that knee behind your bum, and tap you hand behind your back onto the heel (make the transition from front to back without letting foot touch the ground).
Gently lift your left foot off the ground, hinge forward at the hips, keeping your right foot firmly anchored to the ground. Your left leg will come out behind you, and take your arms out to the side to stabilise yourself. Hold the position and enjoy the hamstring stretch through the right hamstring. Switch sides. Do 2 sets of 10 reps.
TOO EASY? Try this exercise walking, alternating legs with each step.
Start in table top position, on your knees with your hands stacked under shoulders. Brace through your trunk, reaching forward with your left arm, and backwards with your right leg. Imagine you are aiming to touch either ends of the room with your extended limbs. Don’t allow your hips the sway from side to side as you extend your limbs away, keep your trunk firmly engaged. Switch sides. Do 2 sets of 10 reps.
TOO EASY? Have a friend place a tennis ball in the small of your back; the aim is to keep it there!
CLOCK FACE BALANCE
Imagine you’re standing in the middle of a clock face. Bend at the right knee slightly, (this is your base leg). Using left foot, point to where would be 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’ clock. Ensure you keep your base knee slightly bent, and that your glutes are also engaged. Do 2 rounds of the clock face on each leg.
TOO EASY? Get a friend to call numbers on the clock face in random order, return to starting position as quickly as possible, waiting for their next call.
Balance starts from the ground up, and is relative to our relationship with the ground and gravity. Working on your calf strength will improve your relationship with the ground, giving your more awareness of how you connect to it. Have your heels off the edge of a step, allowing them to hang down. Then, push up onto the balls of your feet. Hold onto a wall for stability. Do 2 sets of 10 reps.
TOO EASY? Try doing it standing on a pillow, single leg, and without holding onto anything for support!