By Tim McComsey, RD, CPT at TRYM Fitness
We’ve been working on balance since we were born, but some of us still don’t have it down. So it’s time to exercise our balance.
Ever feel a little off your game to the left, then to the right, and boom you’re down? Being able to recover from a stumble, regardless of your age, could reduce your risk for a fall and any injury that goes along with it. Proprioception is defined by the National Academy of Sports Medicine as “the cumulative sensory input to the central nervous system from all mechanoreceptors that sense body position and limb movement.” In other words, it’s the ability to sense how our bodies are positioned in the world regardless of any internal or external stimuli, motion, or loss of equilibrium. However, everyone has varying levels of this ability. It is important, therefore, to practice coordination and proprioception and strengthen your ability to balance regardless of your age.
Try these eight exercises you can do at home to increase your ability to balance:
Doing these exercises barefoot will help train your brain to interact with your grounding foundation. Give it a try!!
Single Leg Squats
Stand in front of a chair with your left calf close to the base and your right leg raised up off of the floor. Reach your arms out away from your body. Lower down towards the seat of the chair without sitting and just touch and lift right back up to a single leg standing position. Repeat for 15–20 before switching legs.
Pushups with Reach
Begin in a push-up/plank position either fully extended or on your knees. Lower down into a push-up and engage your core. As you press up, lift your right arm out and up towards the ceiling. Bring your right arm down and lower into another pushup. Every time your press up, alternate reaching arms until you’ve completed 5–8 on each side.
Around the World Lunges
Stand with feet together and plenty of room around you. Step forward with your right leg and lower down into a forward lunge. Press through the heel coming back up into a standing position. Step out to the right at a 45 degree angle and lower down into a lunge then press back to standing. Step out to a 90 degree angle and lower into a side-lateral lunge. Press through the heel and squeeze the gluteus to come back to standing. Lastly, step back with the right leg and lower down into a reverse lunge. Each time you press back to the beginning stance, try keeping your right foot elevated so all of the balance is happening on the left leg. Switch and repeat on the left side! Try doing each full round-the-world five times.
Single Leg DeadliftStand tall and shift your weight onto your left leg. Hinge at your hip crease and lower your heart towards the ground while keeping a flat back until the crown of your head and your right heel make a straight horizontal line. Hold this position for 3–5 seconds before engaging your hamstring and gluteus to come back up to a standing position, balancing on the left leg. Repeat 8–10 times on each leg. (Place a chair in front of you for added support if you need it.)
Step Up to Balance
Find a sturdy bench, box, or chair and stand in front of it with your left foot set on top. Engage your core, shift your weight forward, and step up so you’re standing on top of the bench. Balance on the left leg and bring your right leg up so your foot is at knee’s height. Balance for 3–5 seconds before lowering back down slowly. Repeat 8–10 times on each leg.
Stand on your left leg and elevate your right leg off of the floor. Lower down towards the ground, sending your right foot backwards while maintaining balance until you can tap your left foot with your right hand. Squeeze the belly and exhale as you come back up and kick the right foot forward and balance. Repeat 8–10 times on each leg.
Set two cups about five feet apart and stand behind the left one. Balance on your left leg and hop towards the right side cup, landing on your right foot and holding a single leg balance. Keep hopping back and forth, landing on opposite legs for 30 seconds.
Tree Pose with Eyes Closed & Arm Circles
Stand on one leg and tuck the other leg into the inner thigh of the stabilizing leg. Hold this position for 1 minute. To challenge your balance even more, try holding your tree pose and making 10 forward and 10 backward large arm circles. Then close your eyes for the last 30 seconds of your balance exercise.
Want another balance exercise from Tim? Try this one!
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