Wanting to improve your balance is something we think about as we age. You always hear about the elderly not being able to balance, which leads to falls and clumsiness.
Before we talk about how to improve your balance, let’s first check your balance.
First thing to try is to lift one foot and see how long you can stand on the other foot. Time yourself. I suggest you test yourself balancing on both legs. My right leg is significantly stronger than the left so my balance is better on my right.
Second thing to try is checking your balance as you move. Try walking in a single line, as if you’re on a tightrope, for 10 or 12 steps. See how you do.
Once you start working on improving your balance, you probably want to repeat these tests so you can see how you’re improving.
How to Improve Your Balance
Here are a few things you can try to improve your balance.
- Practice standing on one leg. Be sure to alternate legs so balance improves on both sides. You may need a chair or counter to hold onto when you first start this. I often try standing on one leg when I do things like brush my teeth. I don’t know why I feel compelled to multi-task in this way but it’s a good way to practice standing on one leg.
- Practice standing from a chair without using your hands. Use a basic kitchen chair for this. (Don’t use your rolling desk chair!) Just put both feet on the floor and stand. You’ll probably feel this in your thighs. Do this a few times in a row. If you’re good at this and able to do it successfully, make it harder by standing up from the chair using only one leg. Again, don’t use your hands. Just get up using one leg. It’s a challenge!
- Walk heel to toe in a straight line. You want to be sure to place one foot directly in front of the other so that the heel of the front foot touches the toes of the back foot. Be sure to keep yourself upright. You don’t want to slouch forward while doing this.
- Stand on one leg and bend and hold the other leg behind you. We do this often at gym classes at the end of class to stretch the quads. You may need to hold onto a chair or wall when you do this. I find it challenging to do it without a wall nearby.
- Begin a yoga or tai chi practice. Both of these provide significant help with balance.
Don’t forget to use your core. Any time you’re trying to balance, be sure to tighten your core. Keeping your central body strong helps keep your body more stable.
These are some simple things you can do at home to improve your balance. Let me know if you try any of these and if they help.