Exercises to improve balance and core strength
Robina 7 Day Doctors and Acupuncture recommends this article.
Our sense of balance is something we tend to take for granted – until we are trying to perfect our surfing or snowboarding. Or find ourselves regularly taking a tumble.
In fact, it is so important that our brains and body work hard to stop us noticing how much it is declining. That is until we have problems with our eyesight, which we use to compensate for our actual balance organs.
You get a sense of just how good your sense of balance really is by attempting to balance on one foot with your eyes closed. Bend one knee and lift the foot — if you’re right-handed, stand on your left leg and lift the right foot. You don’t need to lift it high – about 6 inches off the floor.
The chart below shows how long you should be able to keep this up for, without falling over or having to put your foot down.
Target time for standing on one food with your eyes closed based on your age category.
In reality most of us, no matter what age, could probably do with practising and improving our balance. Especially if we tend to be sedentary most of the time. Like our muscle strength, if you don’t use it you’ll lose it…
Our balance is primarily controlled by something called our vestibular system. A complex series of tubes and chambers in our inner ear. These are filled with fluid that sloshes around, affecting nerve endings which detect the position and movement of the head.
Below are some demonstrations of balance and core strength exercises that you can easily do at home
If you need support to stand, try the kitchen table or any walking aids that you might use.
- Stretch your neck by standing tall, feet hip-width apart and then turn your head slowly to the left, right, up and down – using your fingers on your chin to help stretch out the neck. Do this 5 times if possible.
- Stretch your back out by slowly arching back while looking forward and by turning your upper body left and right (with your hips and feet not moving). Repeat this 5 times.
- Next your ankles – Sit on a chair, with your back fully supported, stretch one leg out and then point your toes away from you and then back towards you.
Next you want to improve your strength and again there are some easy exercises. With time you can start to use ankle weights if you want to improve the benefit you get from the exercises.
- Again, sitting in a chair comfortably, with your back supported, sweep your foot along the ground and out, but be careful not to lock your knees. Then lower the foot and repeat. Try to raise your foot slowly over a count of three and then lower over the count of 5. Repeat this ten times on each leg.
- Next, strengthening the back of the knees. Standing out of the chair, stand behind it or use a table for support. Brush one foot backwards and then lift the foot from the floor. Keep your knees together. Then lower your leg again and repeat on each leg ten times – lifting over a slow count to three and lower over a low count to 5.
- Onto your hips next – stand behind the chair or table again as support and keeping your back straight, lift one leg out sideways slowly while counting slowly to three. Lower the leg while counting slowly to 5 and then put your foot back on the ground and rest. Repeat this 10 times on each leg.
- At this point if you are wearing ankle weights take them off.
- Finally strengthen your feet. Again, supporting yourself at the table or against a chair. Keep your feet hip-distance apart and slowly lift yourself onto your toes. Lift over the count of 3 and lower over a count of 5. Repeat this 10 – 20 times.
- When you are finished with heel raises, stand in the same position and lift your toes, putting all your weight on your heels. Again, raise over the count of three and lower during a slow count to 5. Like the heel lifts, do these 10 – 20 times.
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