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!