Balance is a vital element of physical heath. Falling or tripping can often result in pain and injury, but in the older population a fall can lead to a hospital admission and more serious health complications. Regardless of age for those of us living an active life, the importance of staying upright while running, riding or skiing is not to be understated!
So, here’s 5 tips you can do anywhere to improve your balance.
1. Mobilise your feet. There are 26 bones in each foot and each bone connects to at least one other. That’s a lot of joints. Our feet are designed to be mobile and deform somewhat to the surface they are walking on. Spending time on flat ground (and enclosing our feet in hard, stiff shoes) doesn’t allow our feet to move much. A few ways you can improve the mobility of your feet are
2. Strengthen your feet. This goes hand in hand (or foot in foot) with number 1. You are better able to strengthen the smaller muscles within the foot if the joints are mobile. Some exercises for foot strength include:
3. Improve ankle mobility. Most of us have spent years in shoes with a positive heel and sit a lot – both of which contribute to tight calves and reduced ankle range. By restoring mobility to our ankles, we are better able to react on unstable ground. One of the easiest ways to do this is by stretching your calves
4. Improve lower limb strength. Our legs are better able to support us if they’re strong. Exercises to strengthen your calves, thighs and the muscles around the hip will be beneficial in many ways, including balance.
5. Practise. Combine standing on one leg, or do calf raises while you’re doing something else, like waiting for the kettle to boil, standing in line or cleaning your teeth. Or practise walking along a line of tape on the floor, a row of bricks, a fallen log or even across the river on stepping stones!
Most of my Pilates classes will include at least one of the above elements, but if you are looking for a class dedicated just to balance then The Balancing Act Workshop is for you. I will be running one in the coming months, but in the meantime try these tips and let me know how you go!
The Pilates Industry has seen a boom in recent times and it seems that studios offering Clinical Pilates, Mat Pilates, Circuit Pilates and Reformer Pilates are popping up all over the place! So, what is what and which one is right for you?
It is important to note that all quality Pilates classes, will integrate breath, flow, alignment, control, spine articulation and whole-body movement into the class. These Pilates principles are what sets Pilates apart from other types of movement and fitness classes.
Clinical Pilates can often come under the name Studio or Small Group Pilates depending on what type of teacher training the instructor has done. These classes make use of the Pilates equipment and typically have a maximum of 4 clients per instructor. With the unique design of the Pilates equipment and a qualified instructor you will receive a whole body movement experience that both supports and challenges you. Each person has an individual program which is done under the support and guidance of their instructor.
Clinical Pilates is ideal for those who have specific movement needs such as those recovering from injury or surgery. Or you may have a condition that has certain movement requirements (such as osteoporosis or pregnancy), have a specific athletic goal or event coming up (such as a return to running) or simply wish to delve deeper into your body and the profound difference Pilates can have on it.
Before starting your Clinical Pilates program, you will have an individual assessment and at least one private class. This gives us the opportunity to design and deliver a tailored program that is specific to your goals and needs, and ensure you are comfortable and safe using the Pilates equipment.
Mat Pilates is a group Pilates class (surprisingly, on the mat!) of up to 12 people. The exercises are done lying, sitting, kneeling and standing as we flow and progress through class. We often use props such as bands, rollers and balls to add support and challenge. Many of the exercises can be modified to accommodate the individual, but these classes are generally better for those of you without injury. A weekly Mat class is excellent for those wanting to maintain their general strength, mobility and balance in a larger group environment.
This style of class is a higher intensity, athletic circuit style class using the Pilates equipment. This is a fun way to experience the Pilates equipment in a larger group environment – something different each week while still focussing on the Pilates principles. It is best for those free from injury.
With an almost limitless number of exercises and variations that can be done, the Pilates reformer is an amazing piece of equipment. Flowing through an entire class on the reformer is lots of fun which is why reformer Pilates classes are hugely popular in the cities are larger centres! These classes are essentially a mat class on the reformer – best for those without any injuries or limitations.
So, if you would like to get started with Pilates, you can find my Pilates class timetable here, or get in touch to book your first session!
And, for those of you who are still curious about Pilates and how it can help you I’m happy to answer any questions you may have, click here if you want to know more.