You wobble slightly walking down a flight of stairs. Before you know it, you’re on the floor, wondering what happened to your sense of balance. Like bones and muscles, balance doesn’t remain static over a lifetime. It will deteriorate if not well maintained. Since balance training isn’t part of most people’s workouts, it’s natural for us to start losing it over time. Balance just isn’t something most people think about – at least until they slip, trip, or fall.
Thankfully, balance can be restored. A 2007 study in the journal Osteoporosis International researched the impact that balance training has on women with osteoporosis. By the end of the year-long study, participants saw both their functional and static balance improved. Mobility increased and falling frequency declined.
The Connection Between Strength and Balance
Think about the daily activities you do that require balance. Walking down stairs, getting in and out of the bath tub, and even getting up from your chair all depend on your ability to balance – and your strength. It’s impossible to maintain your balance without muscles holding you up and reinforcing your stability.
If you haven’t been to the gym in a while, basic weight training can do wonders for your sense of balance. Start slow with a mind to your goals. If you’re hoping to make getting up from the couch a little easier, for instance, squats can be incredibly effective. Planks are also great for balance, as they strengthen your core and provide a solid foundation for any activity that requires you to balance.
Introduce Some Instability
To prevent falls, though, you’re going to want to introduce some sense of instability. Your ultimate goal should be to maintain balance in tricky situations. Simply walking on a treadmill isn’t enough. Doing heel raises on a pillow on the floor can provide your ankles and calves the instability necessary to train them to react to instability. Playing a sport, walking, running, or taking a fitness class can also introduce instability in a safe way.
Yoga and pilates are also excellent options for building balance. Poses require the use of core stabilizing muscles. Incorporating basic moves like mountain pose or tree pose can really bolster your efforts to build balance.