One Leg Away From Better Balance

Photo of a wobble board.
A wobble board can provide an unsteady surface on which to perform balance exercises. Rollover/Getty Images

Did you know that falling is one of the most common causes of injury in older persons. A loss of balance can lead to a fall, a FOOSH injury, and it may cause serious injury like a fracture. But balance can be improved with exercise, and your physical therapist can show you how.

Often as we age, our balance skills deteriorate. For this reason it is important to do exercises to improve and maintain balance throughout our lives.

Balance exercises can be performed daily and in your own home as part of a home exercise program. You can start out with simple balance activities and increase the difficulty to advanced balance exercises as your balance improves.

Improving your balance takes practice. One simple exercise can be done and modified as your skill level improves. Read on to learn how to improve your balance starting today. Check in with your doctor before performing any exercise program to ensure that it is safe for you to do. Remember, to improve balance, you must challenge your balance, and this can place you in a precarious and unsafe position. Make sure you maintain safety at all times when performing balance exercises.

Beginner:

  • Stand up straight behind a tall chair or at a counter top.
  • Lightly grasp the chair or counter top with your finger tips.
  • Raise one leg a foot off the ground.
  • Maintain your balance while standing on one leg.
  • Hold for a count of ten seconds.
  • Repeat with other leg.
  • Perform five on each leg.

Intermediate:

  • Stand up straight behind a tall chair or at a counter top for safety only.
  • Without holding on to the chair or countertop raise one leg a foot off the ground.
  • Maintain your balance while standing on one leg.
  • Hold for a count of ten seconds.
  • Repeat with other leg.
  • Perform five on each leg.

Advanced:

  • Stand up straight behind a tall chair or at a counter top for safety only.
  • Close both eyes.
  • Without holding on to the chair or countertop raise one leg a foot off the ground.
  • Maintain your balance while standing on one leg.
  • Hold for a count of ten seconds.
  • Repeat with other leg.
  • Perform five on each leg.

As your balance improves, you may wish to increase the time you spend standing on one foot, and then increase the number of repetitions you perform of each exercise. Your PT can help you progress properly with your balance exercises.

As your balance improves, you may need to check in with your physical therapist to learn more challenging ways to improve your balance and proprioception. Your PT may use specialized tools, like a BAPS board or BOSU ball, to continue your balance exercise progression. Evidence suggests that simply having a catch with someone can help improve your reaction time and your balance.

If you are having difficulty maintaining your balance, you may benefit from working with your physical therapist to learn strategies to improve balance and reduce falls.

Your physical therapist can prescribe exercises, much like these ones, that can improve your balance and your overall safe functional mobility.

Edited by Brett Sears, PT

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