5 Ways To Improve Your Balance

Alexandria Wellness standing bird dog

It is no secret: as we age, injuries happen more often. It is true that our bone density decreases with age; we get busy and are lost in thought and miss a step. Yet most injuries are the result of years and years of improper movement patterns, prolonged sitting, poor posture, and a variety of asymmetries (where left and right don’t match in strength, flexibility, and mobility).

To live a healthy, injury-free life, there is one thing we MUST prioritize now. This is one of the most important aspects of our fitness, especially for those who are over fifty. And, it is something we can all practice daily, with very little space or time!

I’m talking about balance.

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After 18 years of working with clients on a myriad of fitness and wellness challenges, this is one of the most common skills with which I see women struggle.

So why is balance so important? It is not only the obvious reason of preventing falls and reducing the risk of injury. There are so many ways balance contributes to your health and wellness.

First and foremost, when we move “symmetrically,” we are putting equal amounts of (good) stress on our bones, joints, and muscles and everything that holds them together. Moving this way helps improve our posture and increases the brain’s ability to use the appropriate muscle groups synergistically, or simply put, the way they are supposed to be used.

Balance also gives us the ability to “ground” ourselves, which is crucial whether you are simply walking down the stairs, doing a heavy strength training session, riding on your Peloton, or running a 5K.

Here are my top 5 ways to improve balance:

1) Walk/train barefoot. This is the single most important (and easiest) way to improve our balance. Walking and training barefoot helps us to feel and grip the floor with our feet and the thousands of nerve endings on them, giving us greater stability, body awareness, and control.

2) Walk/Jog backward. Yes, I’m not making this up. When we walk or jog backward, we first need to think about what we are doing. Next, we are more in tune with how our foot “engages” with the ground. And, boy, it is not easy – so yes, ladies, you can burn more calories. 😉

3) Stand or bounce on one leg. I often tell my clients to stand on one leg while brushing their teeth (hold on to the bathroom countertop if needed). This forces them to practice their balance daily, and the excuse “I don’t have time” doesn’t cut it! If you have time to brush your teeth, you have time to work on your balance.

4) Standing bird dog. This movement is great for anyone from beginner to Olympic athlete. Not only does it improve balance, yet it also gets both sides of the brain working together as we activate our opposing limbs simultaneously. I’m standing with two weights of 2.5 pounds, yet you can grab two cans of soup, two bottles of water, or whatever your heart desires.

Alexandria Wellness standing bird dog

5) Eyes closed. It sounds simple, yet those of us who have tried balancing with our eyes closed know it is extremely difficult. Start with a few seconds standing on one leg and increase the time as needed.

We want to help you (and your team!) take charge of your health and wellness. Here are two ways you can get started today. If you are interested in joining a new concierge small group, email us at contact@alexandriawellness.com.

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