Updated: Apr 21, 2022
I hear a lot about balance - just being able to stand up and move about your day. Never mind the additional craziness of standing on one foot, being able to exercise while on one foot, or carrying an uneven load of weight and keeping yourself upright.
A few months after my bike crash, I went to the movies with some family members. We sat way up in the top of the theater and there were a lot of stairs to navigate. I found that going down stairs was quite a challenge and I lost my balance and fell down the stairs. I knew that I was off-balance (and likely would be for a couple of months), but this fall highlighted that I needed to really work on my balance.
I often tell clients and athletes that we all need to work on our balance - it deteriorates with age and we need to work to maintain our balance abilities. Here are a few exercises that I perform pretty regularly to work on improving my balance:
Standing on one foot: You can do this any time and almost anywhere. I used to stand on one foot during commercials, while I was cooking, or while standing around at the kids’ athletic events.
Balance on something unstable: Airex pads, stability discs, and BOSUs are favorites. You can start with both feet on the pads or discs and work your way up to balancing on one foot. BOSUs are great because you can stand on the rounded part (half ball) or on the flat part (truly an unstable environment). If you need more of a challenge, you can try lifting weights while standing on one of these items.
Practice in the water: standing on one foot, hopping up and down, then side to side and front to back. It’s a much more forgiving environment than the ground is and you can use your arms to help you as you practice. Once you gain some balance, you can take your arms out of the water to increase the challenge.
Work on your balance a few times a week and you’ll see major improvements within a few months.
Maria Netherland is a Northwest Florida-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Endurance and Youth & Juniors Certified Coach as well as a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Performance Enhancement Specialist. Coach Maria loves working for athletes of all abilities, military athletes, and new triathletes as they pursue their goals. Maria is a veteran of the US Army and a United States Military Academy at West Point graduate. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.