Everyone can benefit from improved balance. The ability to stand and walk upright on two legs requires a great amount of balance. It also requires the coordination of many systems in the body working together to keep you upright and prevent falling. Injury to one or more of these systems may result in loss of balance. Aging, disease, cognitive impairment and some medications may also cause them to work less efficiently.
Falls are the leading cause of hospital admissions for trauma among older adults. A fall can lead to a fear of falling again, which frequently leads to inactivity and functional decline.
But just 90 seconds a day of balance training can help increase independence, improve coordination, efficiency, posture, sports skills, reaction time and joint stabilization.
Here are 3 safe and effective home strategies that can be done daily to improve your balance. Remember to stand in front of a stable surface, such as the kitchen counter, for safety and assistance. Notice the tiny adjustments your feet and ankle muscles are making while your brain is making new connections about what works and doesn’t work.
1. Bring your feet together, release your hands and balance for 30 seconds. If this is easy, make it more challenging by closing your eyes.
2. Stand with one foot in front of the other, heel to toe. If this is difficult, separate your feet like you’re taking a short step. Balance for 30 seconds.
3. Repeat #2 with the opposite foot in front of the other. Balance for 30 seconds.
Do this every day and you will notice an improvement in as little as a week. Pick a time of day that is consistent and make it a habit. I balance every morning while waiting for my instant oatmeal to microwave.
Soon you will need more of a challenge, so try closing your eyes, rotating your head or body, reaching behind or standing on a soft surface like a folded towel. Be creative like kids are; they challenge their balance constantly, such as walking on sidewalk cracks or avoiding them.