Dr. Wendi Johnson - Wednesday, August 25, 2021
Have you watched a baby learn to walk recently? They might stand up, then plop down, then up and down until it feels right for them to take a step. They might stand only part way upright before going back down. When they take steps, they may only take a few steps before they stop, or they may inch along holding a hand or furniture. And, they usually try things over and over until they get confidence.
We all started that way with no balance, we practiced until we got it down. We developed our balance over the first two decades of life and then slowly over time, we start to lose it. We don’t do as many activities to keep it up, we get in a rut, don’t try new things. If we lose too much of our balance, then we are risk for falls and other injuries.
Here are three different exercises to help build or maintain your balance.
Exercise 1: Variations on Chair Pose
Feet about hips width apart. Sink down like you are going to sit or assume the yoga chair pose. Arms can be forward or out to side. Knees stay behind the toes. Sink as low as you are comfortable with the ultimate goal of thighs being parallel to the ground. Try to hold 30 seconds, increase each time you do it.
Exercise 2: Walking Heel to Toe
You might read this and wonder, “How is walking an exercise to improve balance?” This exercise makes your legs stronger, which enables you to walk without falling. Put your right foot in front of your left foot so that the heel of your right foot touches the top of the toes of your left foot. Move your left foot in front of your right, putting your weight on your heel. Then, lift your weight to your toes. Repeat the step with your left foot. Walk this way for 20 steps.
Exercise 3: Rock the Boat
Stand with your feet apart, so that the space between them is the same width as your hips. Make sure both feet are pressed into the ground firmly. Stand straight with your head level. Then, transfer your weight to your right foot and slowly lift your left leg off the ground. Hold that position for as long as possible (but no more than 30 seconds). Slowly put your foot back onto the ground, then transfer your weight to that foot. Slowly lift your opposite leg. Start by doing this exercise for balance five times per side, then work your way up to more repetitions.