Balance is a hot wellness topic. Balance is your ability to stay upright and steady, while stationary and for all your movements, in all conditions. Poor balance can lead to falls, the leading cause of injuries among adults 65 years and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control (https://www.cdc.gov). Falls lead to hip fractures and brain injuries, often debilitating for older adults. Balance is an important skill, no matter your age. Beginning around age 30 you begin to lose muscles mass, your vision may not be as sharp, and eventually your hearing will decline- factors that impact your ability to stay upright. Good balance can help you catch yourself when you slip on the ice, but also helps you reach that high shelf, and ride a bike. Walking, climbing stairs, getting into and out of your truck, all requires good balance.
With good balance you will have:
- better mobility for all your activity, including activities of daily living
- reduced risk of injury
- better posture
- improved coordination
- more efficient workouts and improved fitness
Your sense of balance comes from sensory inputs from touch, your inner ear, sight and sensors in the joints. These inputs are processed by the brain, which leads to a reactionary muscle action output to keep you upright and balanced. With good balance, your body quickly senses, processes and moves to keep you upright. Balance is a “use it or lose it” skill. The good news is that with practice, you can improve your balance.
Work and test your balance with Tandem Stance:
Recruit a friend or family member to practice with you.
- Stand in bare feet on an even surface
- Stand in a doorway, to prevent a fall if you lose your balance
- Place your feet in tandem stance or heel-toe position
- Fold your arms across your chest, hands to opposite shoulders
- Once stable, close your eyes
- Hold this position for 30 seconds, minimum, or up to 60 seconds for optimal results
- Switch the position of your legs and test the other side
If you aren’t able to hold the position for 60 seconds on each leg, this is your cue to add more balance training to your fitness routine.
Practice this Tandem Stance with a few variations to make it more manageable.
- Lengthen and widen your stride to provide a larger base of support.
- Extend your arms out to your sides to increase your center of gravity.
- Leave your eyes open.
- As your balance improves, narrow and shorten your stance. Leave our arms at your side.
- Work towards the full Tandem Stance exercise as mentioned above.
Here are a few other ideas to challenge your balance:
- Stand on one foot while you brush your teeth, stir something, or even while you pump gas.
- Practice standing on a bosu or wobble board while at the gym.
- Walk up the stairs with a pause as you raise your leg to step up.
- Try to walk normally as your walk a straight line on the pavement.
- Add 30 minutes of yoga or tai chi to your week.
- Include core and lower body strengthening exercises in your exercise routine.
So work to improve your balance today and keep on Rolling Strong. If you found this video helpful, please give it a like, share it, and subscribe to our channel. This is Christy Coughlin, Wellness Coach with Rolling Strong.