Wendy suffered from debilitating back pain. As if needing assistance to sit or stand wasn’t enough, the pain got so bad that it began traveling through her body and she lost feeling in her left leg. After surgery and months of physical therapy, doctors cautioned her to avoid falling at all costs—the impact for her would be devastating. So improving her balance became a big priority for her.
With the goal of preventing further injury, Wendy reached out to Cause and Effects Fitness and has been strengthening her core and improving her balance. Since she started, Wendy has better caught herself and prevented falls that could’ve destroyed her functionality.
Falling can even cause fractures of the wrist, humerus, hip, or pelvis and other injuries. In older adults, fall-related injuries can lead to a rapid decline in overall health.
So how can you improve your balance and lower your risk of falling and fall-related injuries?
There are plenty of do-it-yourself exercises to practice at home or even in the office that can help you achieve better balance and a more connected relationship between your mind and body.
1. Try these one-legged exercises.
The most basic way to begin improving your balance is to practice standing on one foot. When doing so, be sure to alternate feet. If you’re not comfortable lifting one leg at a time just yet, try first shifting your weight from one leg to the other and holding each position for 10 to 15 seconds. Always make sure you have some sort of support, whether it’s a chair or doorway or anything else within easy reach.
Once you’ve got the hang of that, try adding these do-it-yourself twists.
Take a look at this video for some beginner exercises before you tackle the ones below.
- One-legged Romanian Deadlift – This sounds a lot scarier than it is. Focus on keeping one foot on the ground, standing straight. Then while maintaining a neutral spine, lean forward until you are within arm’s length of the floor with your other leg fully extended behind you. Bring yourself upright in one steady motion without bending your raised leg. Practice 12 reps on each side.Progression: Hold a single kettlebell (or similar weight) on the same side that remains stationary as your other leg extends behind you. Let the kettlebell hang by your side while in the upright position and down to the ground as you perform the deadlift. As above, 12 reps per side.
- One-legged Squats – Holding your arms in front of you to aid with balance, practice maintaining a neutral spine while pushing your hips back, as if you are seating yourself in a chair, with one leg extended in front of you. Then bring your hips forward again as you stand. Perform 12 reps on each side.
2. Walk heel to toe.
Try walking heel to toe in a straight line, as if on a tightrope, for 20 steps. Then reverse your steps, maintaining the heel-to-toe process. If you need support at first, practice this exercise near a wall.
3. Work your core.
Improving your balance isn’t just about getting in tune with the muscles in your feet and legs. Your core plays a large role in your body’s ability to maintain balance, so it’s important to develop and maintain a strong core.
What parts of your body do core exercises benefit most? Core exercises can help you improve the muscles not only in your abdomen but also in your lower back, pelvis, and hips. All these muscles work together to build a stronger core and improve your balance.
The biggest struggle you may face with these and other exercises is keeping yourself accountable. It can be tough to maintain a specific routine, especially when you’re doing it alone. Need a workout buddy? Contact Cause and Effects Fitness to connect with a dedicated personal trainer to help you improve your balance and overall wellbeing.