I have always had remarkable trouble with my balance. Whether it is caused by too much swimming as a kid, my hearing loss, or some other factor I have yet to determine, I really don’t know. The truth is that the sobriety check of walking a straight line would never work on me. Staying on the straight and narrow was never one of my fortes!
Over the years, I have learned a few exercises that have helped me to strengthen my sense of balance. I would like to share a few of them with you here today. As always, whenever you are starting or changing an exercise program, check with your doctor.
Exercise # 1: Weight Shifts
This is a simple exercise that can really show you if balance is truly an issue, and help you improve it over time. Start with your feet about shoulder width apart, standing comfortably. Lift your left foot up, and shift your weight to your right side. Hold that position for as long as you can, but at least 15 seconds. Lower your left foot, and repeat on the opposite side, raising your right foot and shifting your weight to your left side. As your balance improves with time, increase the number of weight shifts that you do.
Exercise # 2: Single Leg Balance
When you feel comfortable doing the exercise above, consider doing this one. Again, start with your legs shoulder width apart. Raise your right foot off the floor, and shift your weight to the left side. Then, take your right leg, and bending at the knee, slowly rotate your foot from the front to the side, and to the back, and then forward again, creating a semi-circle shape in the air. Be sure to keep your foot relatively low to the ground, and repeat with the other leg, shifting your weight as appropriate.
Exercise # 3: Core Strengthening Exercises
Having a strong core or the area of your torso is essential for good balance. It’s these muscles that help you to right yourself when things get a little off kilter. They help to control movements, allow you to quickly shift body weight, or keep things nice and steady if necessary. Common core exercises that you can do are squats, the plank, the Superman, the basic push up, and the abdominal crunch are all examples of core exercises.
Please note that if you are experiencing increased sense of vertigo, imbalance, or dizziness that a visit to your doctor is in order. Problems with your balance can be an indication of a more serious condition, and should not be taken lightly. It’s best to get things checked out and solve the problem, instead of merely treating the symptom.
Laura Seeber is a geologist, environmental professional, writer, and outdoor and nature enthusiast. Born just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Laura has spent the majority of her life hiking through the forest, descending into caves, climbing over boulders and up cliffs, navigating river rapids, and writing and blogging about her adventures. She currently resides in Illinois and travels country in search of the next great outdoor activity or adventure.