So you want better balance? Here’s a simple balance training routine I teach my patients who want to work on balance.
As a physical therapist who works with people on improving balance, I’ve found that simple balance exercises and routines can make a huge difference!
This simple balance exercise routine is designed to flow into your everyday routine. I refer to this as ‘habit stacking’ and it’s a great way to build new habits to improve you health and overall wellness.
Easy Balance Training Routine
My simple balance training routine focuses on three moves:
- Single Leg Stance
- Narrow Stance
- Controlled Foot Placement
I’ll explain the why behind each of these but let’s dive into each part of the routine.
Balance Exercise #1: Single Leg Stance
Try to find a time throughout the day to practice a single leg stance. I recommend finding a countertop for support, especially if these balance exercises are new to you.
Stack this exercise with other habits or activities you do throughout the day. Here are some ideas when to do the single leg stance exercise:
- Waiting for coffee to brew
- Waiting for dogs to eat food in the AM/PM
- Waiting for the shower to heat up
- While brushing your teeth
How to Perform:
The movement is easy in theory but actually challenging to perform, which is why I recommend everyone start with using the counter for support!
- Hold onto firm chair or counter for support
- Lift one foot off the ground (it doesn’t have to be high)
- Maintain this position for 20 to 30 seconds.
Aim to do this exercise 3-4 times a day. As it becomes easier, you can adjust the exercise to be performed with one hand hold support, then no hand support.
Performing this on an uneven surface like an Airex pad can be a great way to advance this balance exercise too!
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Balance Exercise #2: Narrow Stance Training
This is such a great balance exercise because it’s easy to do anywhere! Narrowing your base of support trains your body to use trunk stability muscles to keep your balance.
Consider doing this exercise at the following times:
- Anytime you’re standing at a grocery store line
- When you’re pumping gas
- While washing your hands
How to Perform:
Ok, it sounds really simple to stand with your feet together, narrowing your stance. But it is a fundamental balance exercise that is critical to master!
- Stand with feet together, use support at first!
- Hold this position for 20-30 seconds
- Make it more advanced by standing with your feet even more narrow (one foot in front of the other, also called ‘tandem stance’)
Frequency: Aim to perform 3-4 times a day.
You can also make this an advanced balance exercise by standing on an uneven surface like an Airex pad or by closing your eyes. I always recommend having someone next to you if you want to practice with eyes closed!
Balance Exercise #3: Controlled Foot Taps
Sometimes I call this exercise: foot taps, stair taps, cone taps, etc. This balance exercise can have multiple names because it’s so customizable! The big picture with this exercise is to maintain your stability while performing foot taps to a step or some other surface.
You can mix this exercise into your daily routine by performing foot taps at the following times:
- Before going up your stairs at home
- While standing at the sink, tap to the cabinet base
- Waiting for food to cook, tap various tiles on the kitchen floor
How to Perform: While standing tall with good posture, lift one foot and tap a step. Repeat the movement aiming for the same spot each time. You can also perform controlled foot taps by touching various points on a flat surface. Just aim to tap the same spot, like a point between two kitchen tiles.
Frequency: Perform 10-20 taps each leg, 3-4 times a day. The repetition is where the magic happens. You’ll find that it becomes easier to control your foot as you perform 10 to 20 taps.
You can make this exercise more advanced by tapping back and forth between two points or even performing it on an uneven surface.
Why These 3 Balance Exercises?
Think about the biggest movements we do each day: walking, stairs, turning. They each involve standing on one leg, controlling foot placement, and navigating narrow stance positions. When we break down these movements and focus on the fundamental components, we can make improvements in our balance.
Yes, they’re simple. But they’re effective!
As always, be sure to check with your physician or physical therapist to make sure you are safe to perform these balance exercises.