Balance Training

Strength/Balance Exercises

 

Each year, U.S. hospitals have 300,000 admissions for broken hips, and falling is often the cause of those fractures. Balance exercises can help you stay independent by helping you avoid the disability - often permanent - that may result from falling. 

As you will see, there is a lot of overlap between strength and balance exercises; very often, one exercise serves both purposes. 

Any of the lower-body exercises for strength shown in the strength section also are balance exercises. They include plantar flexion, hip flexion, hip extension, knee flexion, and side leg raise. Just do your regularly scheduled strength exercises, and they will improve your balance at the same time. They can improve your balance even more if you add the following modifications: Note that these exercises instruct you to hold onto a table or chair for balance. Hold onto the table with only one hand. As you progress, try holding on with only one fingertip. Next, try these exercises without holding on at all. If you are very steady on your feet, move on to doing the exercises using no hands, with your eyes closed. Have someone stand close by if you are unsteady. 

Don't do more than your regularly scheduled strength-exercise sessions to incorporate these balance modifications; remember that doing strength exercises too often can do more harm than good. Simply do your strength exercises, and incorporate these balance techniques as you progress. 

Also do the knee-extension exercise shown in the strength section. It helps you keep your balance by increasing muscle strength in your upper thighs.

Plantar Flexion

Hold table with one hand, then one fingertip, then no hands; then do exercise with eyes closed, if steady.

Summary:

  1. Stand straight, holding onto a table or chair for balance.
  2. Slowly stand on tip toe, as high as possible.
  3. Hold position.
  4. Slowly lower heels all the way back down.
  5. Repeat 8 to 15 times.
  6. Rest a minute, then do another 8 to 15 repetitions.
  7. Add modifications as you progress.

 

Knee Flexion


Do knee flexion as part of your regularly scheduled strength exercises, and add these modifications as you progress: Hold table with one hand, then one fingertip, then no hands; then do exercise with eyes closed, if steady.

  Summary:

  1. Stand straight; hold onto table or chair for balance.
  2. Slowly bend knee as far as possible, so foot lifts up behind you.
  3. Hold position.
  4. Slowly lower foot all the way back down.
  5. Repeat with other leg.
  6. Add modifications as you progress.

Hip Flexion


Do hip flexion as part of your regularly scheduled strength exercises, and add these modifications as you progress: Hold table with one hand, then one fingertip, then no hands; then do exercise with
eyes closed, if steady.

Summary:

  1. Stand straight; holding onto a table or chair for balance.
  2. Slowly bend one knee toward chest, without bending waist or hips.
  3. Hold position.
  4. Slowly lower leg all the way down.
  5. Repeat with other leg.
  6. Add modifications as you progress.

Hip Extension


Do hip extension as part of your regularly scheduled strength exercises, and add these modifications as you progress: Hold table with one hand, then one fingertip, then no hands; then do exercise with eyes closed, if steady.


Summary:

  1. Stand 12 to 18 inches from table.
  2. Bend at hips; hold onto table.
  3. Slowly lift one leg straight backwards.
  4. Hold position.
  5. Slowly lower leg.
  6. Repeat with other leg.
  7. Add modifications as you progress.

Side Leg Raise


Do leg raise as part of your regularly scheduled strength exercises, and add these modifications as you progress: Hold table with one hand, then one
fingertip, then no hands; then do exercise with eyes closed, if steady.

Summary:

  1. Stand straight, directly behind table or chair, feet slightly apart.
  2. Hold table for balance.
  3. Slowly lift one leg to side, 6-12 inches.
  4. Hold position.
  5. Slowly lower leg.
  6. Repeat with other leg.
  7. Your back and knees are straight throughout exercise.
  8. Add modifications as you progress.

 

 

 

 

 

Anytime/Anywhere


These types of exercises also improve your balance. You can do them almost anytime, anywhere, and as often as you like, as long as you have something sturdy nearby to hold onto if you become unsteady.

Examples:

  • Walk heel-to-toe. Position your heel just in front of the toes of the opposite foot each time you take a step. Your heel and toes should touch or almost touch. (See Illustration.)
  • Stand on one foot (while waiting in line at the grocery store or at the bus stop, for example). Alternate feet.
  • Stand up and sit down without using your hands.

 

 

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