Balance is something many of us take for granted. But as we get older, various systems in our body that control body positioning become less effective, making us prone to falls and injuries.
Here are 4 easy balance exercises that can help improve stability and flexibility, as well as promote overall fitness and health.
To make sure you practice proper form and technique while performing these exercises, consult a trained physiotherapist.
4 exercises to improve balance
1. Head turns
- In a sitting position, turn your head from side to side, leading your head with your eyes as if watching a tennis match.
- Turn your head slowly first and then quickly enough to feel slightly dizzy, while being cautious not to strain your neck.
- Move your head back and forth 10 times and then wait for 30 seconds or the dizziness resolves.
- Repeat this process 2 times.
- As dizziness improves, perform these head exercises with your eyes closed.
2. Walking head turns
- Practice walking in a straight line in a hallway or an open space while turning your head and eyes side to side with every other step.
- Continue for about 20 feet or the length of the hallway.
- Repeat this process 3 times.
- After resting, try repeating the exercise but this time looking at the ceiling or floor.
3. Cushion stands
- In a corner, stand on a couch cushion or several pillows piled on top of each other.
- Try standing still without touching the wall for 30 seconds.
- Practice with your eyes open at first, then try with your eyes closed.
- Make this more challenging by placing your feet closer together or crossing your arms across your chest.
4. Weight shifts
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and with your weight equally distributed on both legs.
- Shift your body weight to the right and lift your left foot off the floor.
- Hold this position and maintain good form for 30 seconds.
- Return to the start position and repeat on the opposite side.
- As your balance improves, increase the number of repetitions.
What causes balance problems?
Your balance is maintained by the coordination of various systems in your body that send information to your brain from the inner ear, eyes, joints, and muscles.
Your vestibular system plays an important role in maintaining the body's posture in relation to its surroundings. Located in the inner ear just under the brain, the vestibular system is designed to send information about the position of the head to the brain’s movement control center—the cerebellum.
Through input from peripheral organ systems, the cerebellum stimulates motor neurons (neural cells in the muscles) that instruct the muscles to move and initiate shifts in body positions that maintain balance and posture. When these signals are disrupted, it can cause dizziness or vertigo, as well as other balance issues.
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