Your balance is an important aspect of your overall health and wellness. Whether through trauma, or age, your balance can deteriorate over time. Sprains and strains can also injure the delicate proprioceptors inside of your joints. Proprioception is like the GPS system in your body. Proprioceptors provide information to your brain about where your body is in space. Injured or weak proprioception can make you prone to more injuries, like sprained ankles, or even slip and falls.
Improving your balance, through proprioception exercises, can have a number of positive health affects. Not only can healthy balance prevent injury, but it can help to preserve the health of your joints and muscles. Healthy balance can give you more energy and strength and help you to move more freely and confidently. Below are some of the ways that you can help to maintain and improve your balance.
You don’t have to do fancy exercises to start working on your balance. Simply standing on one leg can get you on your way to better balance. I recommend having a stable surface, like a counter, to hold onto at first for support. Once you feel confident you can let go of the counter, try to balance on your leg for about 30 seconds to one minute. Once this gets easy, you can try closing your eyes and see how long you can balance on a single leg. Try to work up to 30 to 60 seconds with your eyes closed as well. For fun with a partner, try passing a ball back and forth while both of you are standing on one leg. This will stimulate your brain neurology to improve your balance even more.
Purchasing a wobble board or balance board can be a good investment. Wobble and balance boards are especially good if you have a prior ankle injury. Wobble and balance boards can help to improve your balance and posture, aid in rehabilitation of an injured joint, improve your core strength, and can prevent future ankle sprains.
While standing on the board, try to stand on the board for as long as you can without the edges touching the floor. I recommend doing this 3 to 5 times a week for 1 to 3 minutes.
Many yoga styles have single leg poses. The single leg poses are wonderful for working on your balance. Because many of the poses have your legs and arms in different positions, they can really challenge you to use your balance centers.
For the more physically fit person, a single leg Russian dead lift is a great exercise for balance. You can do this exercise with your own body weight or try adding some weight with some dumbbells. Remember to go slow and only do this exercise when you’re ready for a more advanced move.
For those who are physically fit, and work out regularly, doing some of your exercises on a balance pad can help to improve your overall balance. Because the balance pad is an unstable platform, regular exercises like squats and lunges can become more challenging. Doing these exercises on a balance pad makes you use your smaller, intrinsic muscles that help with balance and coordination.
Believe it or not, your posture is one of the best solutions for having good balance. Poor postural abnormalities can cause your muscles to work unevenly, bringing you off-center. Studies show that healthy posture improves balance and hand-eye coordination in athletes. These same studies show improved athletic performance with better posture. If good posture helps professional athletes, imagine what good posture can do for you!!