Updated: Jul 27, 2022
Would you like to improve your balance and stability? Have you got a good balance but would like to exceed your skills? At some point during the day have you ever tripped over, fell and lost your equilibrium? Even if we tend to underestimate this simple but at the same time complex ability we need to realise that being able to balance is essential in our life. Ballet dancers and contortionists, for example, go to great lengths to improve and understand the correct body alignment needed, the ability of the centre of gravity, muscle activation and body stability. What this post offers is an understanding of balance but also what we can do to improve it or maintain it.
Why is balance important?
Balance is a key component for achieving a good and healthy lifestyle and to be able to be independent. Everyday simple activities such as walking, running and standing require a sense of equilibrium in order to perform with efficiency. Having an exceptional balance can also open doors to job opportunities such as becoming an acrobat, dancer, gymnast, skier etc. More importantly balance is a way to avoid injuries as many of us in this fast paced life, we tend to not pay attention to our surroundings and we’re more likely to fall or trip over cracked pavement, street objects etc.
At what age balance starts to deteriorate? : it has been said by many experts that this important ability starts to decline as early as 25-30 years old! But the process of deterioration is more noticeable and goes down faster in older people aged 65 and over, making them more susceptible to falls. This is why it’s crucial that especially at this age specific exercises for improving balance must be done daily along with some other activities. Other factors such as loss or damage to your sight, hearing and to proprioceptors can affect your sense of equilibrium negatively.
What can bring balance issues?
High or low blood pressure
Sudden change of direction
Bumping into someone or something
Lack of sleep
Getting up too quickly from a seated position
Tension in your feet or injury
Be more active! Sitting down many hours during the day in front of the Tv or at your desk will weaken your core, leg, ankles and feet muscles which will decrease your sense of equilibrium. Walking alone for example will help to build lower-body strength, increase bone density and improve blood circulation and if you join a dance, Pilates, cycling, yoga etc. then all that together will considerably improve your overall equilibrium.
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What exercises can i do to add to my daily workout in order to improve my balance?
knee raises ( left one knee up for at least 30 seconds and then lower and left the other one for 30 seconds and then lower. Repeat 3 times with each leg.)
calf raises (stand next to a table or wall to use as support if needed, from parallel position, slowly raise your heels keeping the toes on the floor, hold balance for 30 seconds and then lower down. Repeat 3 times.) If you feel comfortable to the idea you can also do the same exercise in a turnout position (external hip rotation).
Single calf raises (stand next to something sturdy which you can use to balance on, from parallel position, left one foot slightly from the floor and rest it on the side of your other foot ankle, with your support foot left your heel off the floor keeping the toes on the floor, hold balance for 30 seconds then lower. Do the same with the other leg. Repeat each exercise 3 times with each leg. If you feel that you’re getting stronger than you can increase up to 5-10-20 times and so on. Just be careful to not to do too many and remember to stretch the calves afterwards to avoid overworking your calves and injuring yourself.
Have plenty of sleep! In a 24 hours day we need to sleep between 7-8 hours minimum in order for our body and brain to function properly. Sleep deprivation can cause dizziness and lack of concentration making you more susceptible to falls even if you are a young person.
Drink plenty of water! It is important to keep our body dehydrated as lack of that can make us feel light-headed, fatigued and can cause joints and muscles pain. All that can affect your sense of balance and orientation which can lead to injuries and falls.
You might also be interested to read the post "change your life: how to improve your posture"
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