By Gill Stewart at
In the last issue we looked at why STRENGTH training is so vital for us if we want to stay fully fit and active into older age. This month we look at BALANCE and why working to improve it can help massively reduce the risk of falls.
Working on your balance is quite simple to do – in most NWUK wellbeing classes, the Instructor will add drills that involve balance work to help keep those motor skills in top condition (see below). Simply performing these whilst standing on one leg can improve balance massively. If you try these at home, make sure you can hold on to something if you are likely to wobble!
Many physiotherapists use balance boards which are great but should ideally be used under supervision or when you definitely have something at the correct height to hold onto if needed!!!!
The gymstick pro balance board featured is ideal because it can be used as a platform for both feet together or split into two so the user can have one foot on each.
Here are some simple balance drills for you to try:-
Stand on one leg (making sure you can easily hold onto something to start with – Nordic walking poles are great for this – see picture) and gently swing the opposite leg back and forward up to 10 times. Repeat with alternate leg.
Now stand on one leg as before and gently squat down and swing one leg as before but also slightly bent at the knee (see picture) When it comes to the front the knee should come up to waist level as you gently straighten the anchor leg(see picture below). Do this up to 10 times. Repeat with alternate leg.
Remember to only squat down and bend the anchor leg slightly as pictured rather than trying to squat down as if sitting.
As you start to gain improved balance try both of the above with only one pole to support you
Start Position: Standing with poles far enough in front of feet to allow one leg to swing in front of the other.Stand on one leg and swing the other leg from side to side across the front of the supporting leg.
Keep the swing controlled. Increase the movement by allowing movement through the ankle on the supporting leg to turn onto the outside edge of the foot and then onto the inside edge. DON’T force the movement. Just allow it to happen.
Finally – if you want to work on balance at home try standing on one leg as you throw a ball either against a wall or to somebody who is prepared to catch it!! Simple, but VERY effective!!
Yoga and Pilates are also great ways to add balance to your
life and they compliment Nordic walking perfectly so maybe give that a go in 2013 too!