Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Balancing Act - 3 moves to better balance!

On a day-to-day basis most of us take our ability to balance for granted.  Head to a Yoga or Pilates class, try to walk on a snowy or icy sidewalk, or wake up with stuffy sinuses and you quickly realize how finding your balance is so very important.
Balance is also one of the main aspects of fitness that I focus on with my aging clients.  Whether you or 20 or 80 why not give these exercises a try to improve or build your balancing act!

Teeter Totter
I think of this as the drinking bird exercise.  

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes facing forward.  Arms outstretched with elbows slightly bent.  Think "bouncing a baby."  Relax your shoulders, lengthen your tailbone, and let your weight shift to the right leg.  Keep a slight bend in the right leg.  Hinge forward, lowering your arms toward the floor as you lift your leg up behind.  Slowly return to a standing position.  You can begin by placing your left foot on the floor to regain balance before moving to the second rep, building to not touching the left foot down at all.

fig. 1

The goal is to be able to have the fingertips pointing to the floor and the left leg lifted parallel to the floor.  This is 100%(fig.1).  Begin wherever your balance will let you, maybe at 25% (fig. 2) of the full exercise.  You should be able to slowly move forward and then just as slowly and steadily move back to upright. It helps to count: 3-2-1 forward, 3-2-1 back.
fig. 2

Begin by doing 5 on each leg, adding an extra rep each week.

Star and Moon

Stand with your feet a little past hip width apart, arms lifted to a "T" with shoulders away from ears.  Soften the knees.

Let your weight shift to your right leg.  Lower the right arm, lift the left, keeping the arms in one straight line.  LIft the left leg.  Arms and leg must move at the same speed.

The goal is to have arms straight up and down with the lifted leg parallel to the floor.  Just like with Teeter Totter, take it slowly, only going as far to the side as you can in order to lift back to upright with control.

5 on each leg, adding an extra rep each week.

Chair with Heels Lifted

Stand with your feet 2 inches apart, toes turned forward.
Lift your heels to stand on your toes.  Arms are lifted, "squeeze a walnut" between your shoulder blades.

Sit back like your are sitting into a chair and hold for 3 seconds.  Keeping the heels lifted return to a standing position.  Take your time, slow and steady movements.  If you lose balance, just start again from the beginning.

5 reps, adding an extra each week.

Trainer's Tips:

  • Don't forget to breath!  Inhale and then exhale as you do the movement.  Keep breathing even.
  • Take your time.  As I mentioned above, working at half or even a quarter of the full movement is just fine.  Better to do a smaller movement correctly than a big movement without proper form.
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed.  "Shoulders away from ears."
  • Start by adding these to your day twice a week, working to 3-4 times each week.

Let me know if you try these and what you think!

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  1. Those moves remind me of this Nintendo Wii game we use to play...those looks like some great tips, thanks Sally!

    1. Haha! I love Wii balance board exercises!
      Let me know if you try these :)


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