Balance Exercises:
A Neglected Aspect of Fitness
Learn How to Improve Your Balance

Balance exercises are so important for everyone, but they are often neglected in fitness programs and workout routines. On this page you'll learn why it's so important for everyone to work on maintaining and improving your balance.

Defining Balance

There are many different ways to define balance, but let's put an emphasis on "the ability to stand on one leg".

When you run, play sports, climb stairs, and go through your daily activities, there are many times that you are only balanced on one leg. And like anything in life and fitness it is important to prepare your body for the demands that you'll place on it.

The truth is that when you have better balance, you are much less likely to sustain leg injuries, and at the same time you will perform better on any sport or task that involves the lower body.

Balance is a combination of strength and coordination. You need strength in your muscles to stabilize your body, and you need the coordination of your nervous system and brain to keep yourself balanced.

Balance Progression: As mentioned earlier, the best way to improve balance is by doing exercises while standing on one leg at a time. But if standing on one leg is too challenging then, you can follow one of these progressions to build up your balance over time.

Two Legs on a Stable Surface
Two Legs on an Unstable Surface
1 Leg on a Stable Surface
1 Leg on an Unstable Surface

Two Legs on a Stable Surface
1 Leg on a Stable Surface
2 Legs on an Unstable Surface
1 Leg on an Unstable Surface

Obviously, standing on the floor only minimally challenges balance. To further challenge your balance you can stand on one leg or stand on an unstable surface (e.g. foam mat or Bosu Ball). And to maximally challenge balance, you can stand on one leg on an unstable surface.

Three Types of Balance Exercises: Stability, Strength, and Power

The National Academy of Sports Medicine breaks down fitness into 3 major phases: stability, strength, and power. Each phase incorporates different exercises in an effort to improve a specific ability in your body.

Balance Stability: Balance Stability Exercises are exercises in which there is little to no movement in the hip joint while you're standing on one leg. Sample exercises include standing on one leg and standing on one leg while the opposite leg is moving out to the side.

Balance Strength: Balance Strength Exercises are exercises that involve moving through full range of motion at the hip while standing on one leg. Sample exercises include 1 leg squats and 1 leg deadlifts.

Balance Power: Balance Power Exercises are exercises that involve hopping from one leg to the other and sticking the landing. Sample exercises include side hops, front hops, and 90 degree hops.

Conclusion

Everyone (from athletes to seniors) should include balance exercises in their fitness routines. When you improve your balance you will decrease your risk of injury and increase your performance level at sports or daily activities.

Balance Exercises are the most functional way to strengthen your ankles while also stabilizing the knee and hip. And improving your balance is especially important if you have had any type of lower body injury or surgery.

Try incorporating more exercises for improving your balance in your normal workout routine.

Yours in Health,
Dr. Charles PT/PT

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