Nearly 1 in 4 adults over age 65 will fall every year according to the council on aging. Balance training and physical activity are proven ways to decrease falls.
Unfortunately, those at greatest risk for a fall don’t always make their way into a physical therapy clinic until they’ve already fallen!
As a physical therapist, I work with people who have trouble with balance and love seeing positive results in the clinic. But I understand that some people are hesitant when it comes to talking to their doctor about balance issues.
I highly recommend checking in with a physical therapist on balance exercises you can do safely.
Of course, I hear this question a lot in the clinic: what balance equipment should I get for home?
Balance Equipment for Home Use
The good news about balance equipment is that it’s pretty affordable. However, you need to be smart about the equipment you buy and how you use it.
Balance training can be very challenging and without the guidance of a PT, you may put yourself at a greater risk for falling.
3 Tips for Safe Balance Training
- Don’t perform balance training alone
- Always use a sturdy surface for support
- Check with your doctor or PT for appropriate exercises
When you’re ready to begin balance training at home, you might consider these tools to add to your home gym:
1. Airex Balance Pad
This is an absolute must have balance tool that I use in the clinic every day. In the clinic we use the Airex brand, but you can find off brand versions that do a similar job. I really like the Airex brand because of its durability and composition. I personally have used other brands and they do the job, but Airex is the best option.
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Here are a few exercise ideas to perform with the Airex pad:
- Heel Raises
- Mini Squats
- Single Leg Stance
- Step Ups
- Feet Together Stance
2. Balance Disc
Mini balance discs are a little more advanced balance tools, but great for active people who want a challenge at home. They’re inexpensive and I’ve found most of them to be pretty durable. The one below is what I personally have at home in my gym.
- Balance disc promotes core stability, strengthens muscle tone, improves balance and body posture.
- Used as a wiggle seat to provide sensory input, and to help calm children that have a hard time sitting still.
- Ergonomic seating, relieves back pain and shoulder aches
Here are a few exercise ideas to perform with the balance disc:
- Mini Lunge
- Step Up to Disc
- Single Leg Balance
- Lateral Step to Disc
3. Balance Board
This is one of the most popular tools among patients in my clinic! At first they are intimidated by the balance board, but after a minute, they love using it. Not only does it help with balance and proprioception, but it also gives you an active way to stretch your calf.
- ✓ IMPROVE STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING: Our wooden rocker board is designed to stimulate your core and improve agility, reaction time, and stamina....
- ✓ COMPACT AND PORTABLE: At 17.5” x 13.5” x 3” in size, our lightweight balance exerciser/fit tilt board can be used for therapy or training at...
- ✓ SLIP-RESISTANT SURFACE: The top of each rocker balance board features an easy-grip surface that’s gentle on bare feet but helps keep you in...
Here are a few exercises to do with the balance board:
- Forward / Backward Rocking
- Side to Side Rocking
- Mini Squats
- Squat and Hold
4. Ankle Weights
All good balance routines will incorporate strengthening of the lower extremity. You don’t really need to use weights to start strengthening your hips and legs, but having a 3# weight is perfect for strengthening to improve your balance.
- ★ TONE & TIGHTEN: these 1LB ankle weights (x2) can help you tone and tighten your body. Targeting your legs and glutes by adding extra resistance....
- ★ FREE BONUS GIFTS: each purchase includes 3 incredible extras. ➀ Mesh Storage Bag (value: $5), ➁ E-Book: 100 Ankle Weight Exercises for a Toned...
- ★ SNUG FIT: extra-long leg weights, velcro and strap ensures the exercise weights will stay secured. No more loose ankle weights during weight...
Here are a few exercise ideas to do with a 3# ankle weight:
- Front, Side, Back straight leg kicks
- Side Stepping
- Hamstring Curls
- (Avoid running or walking with ankle weights)
5. Resistance Bands
Finally, resistance bands are a must have for home balance training. These bands are very similar to the type I use in my physical therapy clinic. I personally own this set of bands that I use at home.
- High end exercise bands. Our 12″ by 2″ heavy duty loop resistance bands come in 5 varying resistance levels. This makes them perfect whether you...
- Great with any workout. This resistance band set can be integrated seamlessly with various popular workout program. Or use them for general exercise,...
- Multiple uses. While these resistance bands are often used for sports and fitness, physical therapists love these physical therapy bands (rehab bands)...
Resistance band exercise ideas for home:
- Front, Side, and Back straight leg kicks
- Mini Squats with band at knees
- Side stepping
Using balance equipment at home can be dangerous if you do not have an appropriate setup. Always perform balance exercises with someone else present and consult with a physical therapist (other than me!) or a physician to make sure you are safe to do these balance training exercises at home.