Balance and Fall Prevention

Incorporating balance and fall prevention exercises into your weight lifting and aerobic routines can help reduce your chances of injuring yourself in a fall, and is a critical part of any well rounded fitness program.

The Basics

Why include balancing exercises into your fitness routine? Because having good balance can help prevent injuries and improve the quality of your life. We take our ability to balance for granted now, but it can become a challenging task when we get older.

We incorporate balance in our lives everyday. Every time you take a step, you are actually standing on one leg as you transfer your back foot to the front. When you lean forward and reach out to grab an item you are shifting you weight around and you have to control your body’s motion.

There are many ways you can incorporate balancing exercises into your workout routine. You can practice different techniques in-between sets of different exercises or even make your regular exercise routines more challenging by adding an element of balance into your routine. For example, try doing a set of arm curls while standing on one leg instead; don’t be surprise if the weight feels heavier. It takes a lot of energy to stand on one leg.

Balance exercisesA word of caution. When practicing balance work, make sure the area around you is clear. Sooner or later everyone loses their balance when practicing balance exercises.  Developing a program that incorporates balance exercises into your routine is a necessity. Always design your programs in an order that is safe and takes into account your own fitness abilities.

Anyone who has trouble walking, standing stable without a cane or walker, who has had surgery or other health conditions that makes stability an issue should always work one on one with a trainer so a program can be designed specifically for their needs and abilities.

Devices

There are many different devices to improve one’s neuromuscular control. Some of the most popular devices are Swiss balls, foam pads, slosh pipes, half cylinders and dyna discs, just to name a few. (Dyna Disc and Blue Foam Pad shown here).

foam paddyna disc

 

 

 

 

 

Sports

JumpingAnyone who participates in sports realizes the benefits of having good balance. Balance affects every aspect of your game. Try any movement off balance in any type of sport and observe the effect: Loss of control, reduction of power, and a greater chance of injury.

 

Exercises

half cylindersDeveloping a program that incorporates balance exercises into your routine is a necessity. Always design your programs in an order that is safe and takes into account your own fitness level. All stabilizing exercises starts at the feet and ankles. You want to make sure they are flexible and strong. For anyone who has twisted their ankles, you know what I mean.

To improve ankle strength try using a half cylinder, try standing on one leg with your foot on the flat part of the cylinder. You will feel your ankle getting a great workout and you will be teaching balance to your body.
To improve your stability try walking on a balance beam on the floor. If this not realistic for you, try placing a strip of masking tape and walk heel to toe over the tape. If you are just starting to work on your ability to balance, start by standing on one foot on the floor up to 20 seconds at a time. If you find this easy, then try standing on one leg with your eyes close. (It’s harder than you think!) It is recommended that for safety reasons you practice techniques like this by a wall or with a trainer.

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