Let me first say that to improve your balance; it can be both hard and frustrating. I know this to be true because I teach seniors everyday exercises focusing on balance, strength, flexibility, and posture. Knowing that the process can be both hard and frustrating, does that mean you shouldn’t bother? Of course not, because improving your balance a little can be the difference between a fall that could lead to an injury or not. So if you have been trying to improve your balance, but it has been a struggle, read below to see why it may be hard for you.
1. You are not Consistent
There is a saying that goes thus, “practice makes perfect.” When it comes to balance, I wouldn’t say practice makes perfect, but I would say it makes it better. Most people I speak to whether in a class that I teach or in a talk that I give, don’t practice balance regularly when I later ask them. My recommendation for those that want to improve balance would be to practice a minimum of 3-5times per week.
2. You practice out of the realm of your ability
Particularly when I teach in class, even though I tell some individuals that they aren’t ready to practice standing on 1 foot; some still try to. The reason why practicing balance in your realm of ability is important is the same reason we don’t learn calculus and algebra when we are in the 3rd grade. In my opinion, if you can’t do the basic balance exercises first, don’t bother trying the more complicated ones. The easiest position in balance is to stand with your feet together, once you master this, try to stand in a tandem stance (heel-toe), then try 1 foot off the ground. If you go straight to 1 foot off the ground, all you are doing is setting yourself up for frustration, the same way it would be to teach a third grader Algebra.
3. You don’t focus on getting stronger
From my observations, the people who tend to be the strongest and most physically capable tend to have the best balance. The areas that I would focus on would be your core (stomach and back), posture and the muscles around your hips (particularly glutes). The 3 exercises I would recommend for each area would be a plank (see picture), back row and squats.
4. You only do 1 type of balance training
Doing exercises like standing on 1 foot is good for you; however, I would also recommend you do moving exercises. Tandem walking is a great balance exercise that should be added to improve your balance.
5. You don’t look into other health factors (e.g., eye, ears, medication, low blood pressure)
Here are some questions you should ask yourself. Have you had your eyes and ears tested recently? Do you take 3 or more medications daily? Do you have low blood pressure? The points of these questions and others like them are that your health also play a big role in balance. I would suggest you have a thorough check from your doctor before you start exercising.