Hi! My name is Brooklynn Savage, I teach a Strength Training class at Vermont Sport & Fitness Club. Most commonly, I have people coming up to me after class telling me about their balance. They laugh at themselves a little as they tell me how much they struggled to stand on one leg, almost a little embarrassed, as if they’re the only ones struggling. Maybe you’ve found yourself in this same position before, where you were trying to complete a task and struggled a little more than you think you should have because you were off balance. You’re not alone! This is very common as we get older. Why?
When we were kids, we’d run around, jumping, hopping, skipping, from one object to the next; all of this takes balance. We had a lot of practice balancing as kids because we did it all the time, so naturally, we were pretty good at it. What happens when you stop practicing something? You lose it. “Use it or lose it” is no joke!
Maybe now you’re thinking, “Well I’m not a kid anymore, so why would I need balance?” Whether you’re 18, 25, 42, or 79, balance is important. This is because, balance is not only at the base of all movement, but by improving your balance, you reduce the risk of injury. Think back to when you were a baby (because I know you remember back that far). It took a lot of work to stand up, because you were learning the art of balance. Once you mastered it, you were able to conquer more advanced movements; walking, running, hopping, cartwheeling, hurdling… you get the idea. Balance is at the base.
So how do you improve your balance? Start by balancing on one leg for 10 seconds. Try this two or three times on each leg, 3 times a week or more. If you have a hard time balancing, hold on to something (e.g. chair, wall..), and ween off the support. Once you master balancing for 10 seconds, start progressing the time you balance for from 10 seconds, to 20 seconds, to 30 seconds. Next comes balancing on less stable surfaces (wobble board, BOSU ball..). Once you feel confident with that, start to do single leg squats; 2 or 3 sets of 6 on each leg.
Exercises to improve your balance also goes beyond a single leg squat. Any exercise working on your CORE muscles, will help build a foundation for better balance. Try exercises such as squats, bridges, stability ball planks, and single-leg deadlifts, all while engaging your abdominal muscles. For more information on the benefits of, or for more exercises on building your balance, get in contact with one of our trainers.
NASM Certified Personal Trainer