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  • 6 Balance Exercises for Life and Sport

    I was listening to a podcast on healthy aging and the presenter noted that as we age, stability (balance) is one of the first skills we lose. It is critical to keep this skill for life function and sport. Yoga is a great way to keep your balance. If you don’t happen to do yoga, I can give you a few sample exercises you can easily do at home.

    Exercise 1: Looking forward, stand on one foot and count 1001, 1002, 1003, 1004, 1005. The non-weight-bearing foot can be anywhere, but it's easier to begin with it close to the ground. Switch which foot is weight-bearing and repeat the same count. Repeat the set (right leg and left leg) some five to 10 times. As you progress, build up to a 30-second count per foot. As you increase the time per foot, you can decrease the number of sets.

    Exercise 2: Looking forward, stand on one foot and count to five. Remain on that foot, look over your right shoulder and count to five. Remaining on that foot, look over your left shoulder and count to five. (The weight-bearing foot gets a total count of 15 before resting.) Switch feet. Repeat each foot three to five times.

    Exercise 3: Complete exercise 2 with your eyes closed. This is going to be harder than you think. In fact, I'll bet that very few of you are able to get up from your chairs right now and do exercise 3 without touching the ground with the foot that is supposed to remain suspended in the air. Let me know how it goes.

    Exercise 4: While standing on one foot, raise your knee until your femur is parallel to the ground. Count to five. Repeat five to 10 times. As you progress, build up to 30 seconds per foot.

    Exercise 5: While standing on one foot, raise your knee until your femur is parallel to the ground. Kick your heel out until your leg is near parallel to the ground. Bring your foot back so your tibia is perpendicular to the ground. Then move your foot back in a controlled manner as though you are a horse kicking backwards. Return your femur to the parallel position. This entire movement is a count of one. Begin with five repetitions and build to 20 or 30 before switching to the other leg.

    Exercise 6: Raise both arms above your head. Stand on one foot. Let's begin with the right foot as an example. The left leg begins with the femur parallel to the ground (like in exercise 4). Move your right hand down to meet the bottom of your left foot. This requires that your left leg moves up and the bottom of your foot rotates toward your hand. A count of "1" is when your right hand touches the bottom of your left foot. Return to both hands up and femur parallel to the ground before beginning the second repeat. Begin with a count of five and build to 20 or 30 before switching to the other leg. 

    Variation 1: You can choose to do only one exercise per balance session or do a series. Your series might be doing three repeats of going through exercises 1, 2 and 3. In other words, do each exercise three times.

    Variation 2: When you master exercises 1 through 3, to make them more challenging you can do them on a BOSU ball.

    Variation 3: As you advance, you can choose to eliminate exercises 1, 2 and 3 and do only one of exercises 4 through 6 per balance session. Or you can do a series. Your series might include three repeats of going through exercises 4, 5 and 6. In other words, do each exercise three times.

    Variation 4: Complete one or more sets of exercises 4, 5 and 6 with your eyes closed.

    Let me know what you discover while trying out the balance exercises. 

     

    Image by Nicooografie from Pixabay

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