The fact that you don’t stumble over every crack in a sidewalk is actually an amazing achievement. For that you can thank a remarkable combination of bodily systems that contribute to your sense of balance.
Balance relies on the small bones of your inner ears, vision, the proprioceptive system within your muscles (which controls your ability to understand where you are in space), flexibility, strength, and brain function. If any one of these systems goes awry, you bob and weave like you’ve had one too many glasses of wine.
Though all the components of balance naturally decline with age, you can do plenty to keep your balance skills sharp, especially in the areas of flexibility, strength, and proprioception. Balance in many ways is a use-it-or-lose-it proposition. Like any skill, the more you work on it, the better it gets.
Balance is such an important physical ability, we’ve made it searchable. On the AcaciaTV website, go to workouts, then themes to filter out the programs that have a considerable element of balance training included.
In the mean time, incorporate these four exercises into your day to hone your balance. Do 1-2 sets of each, 1-3 reps per set. Hold each side for between 10 and 30 seconds. At first you might feel a bit wobbly but improvements should come quickly. You’ll start to feel rock solid steady within a few weeks of regular practice.
Stand tall with your feet comfortably apart. Lift one leg off the floor and try to maintain your balance. Repeat with the other leg. This gives you a baseline. If you have trouble doing this one with your strongest leg, wait until you can hold for at least 20 seconds before adding in any of the other exercises. For a real challenge, try doing this with your eyes closed, bending your standing leg, or on a wobble board or BoSu.
Kneel on your hands and knees. Extend your right arm and left leg out to their fullest extension and hold. Repeat to the other side. Bonus: This one is really good for perking up your posture too. If this version is too easy try doing it from a plank position.
Sit with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Now lift up tall, pull your bellybutton in towards your spine and tip back so you are balanced on your sits bones. Extend your arms in front of you as a counterbalance. Hold in equilibrium as long as you can. Ready for more? Extend your legs out straight. Even more? Extend your arms up and overhead. And bonus – this is a killer core move too.
Find a curb and walk along it with one foot directly in front of the other like it’s a tightrope. If you don’t have a curb, place a line of duct tape on the floor. Push yourself a little by doing this on a really narrow curb or one that goes around corners or has some twists and turns.
So how did you do? Did you lift one leg off the floor and immediately fall over or were you like an immovable mountain? Share your experience on Facebook.