3 Easy Ways to Improve Balance
Falls are the number one cause for injury in the United States with an estimated $30 billion in direct medical costs in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many injuries that come from falls require time away from the gym and time lost towards reaching a specific goal – not to mention the additional financial burden that comes along with repairing any damage from a fall, between medical bills and potential physical therapy.
Prevention is the key to avoiding all of that. It starts with a few easy steps to include in any workout regimen. No matter the goal or what an individual may be working towards, including a few easy exercises can go a long way in preventing potentially time and money-consuming issues.
Here are three easy ways to improve balance:
1. Achieving optimal balance starts at the feet. Our feet strike the ground differently depending on the footwear and the cushioning that lies underneath them. Shoes that become too worn changes how the muscles contract from the feet up to the hip, while extra cushioning can decrease the foot’s ability to contract muscles in the foot properly. Practicing standing on one foot without shoes on a couple times a week helps contract muscles effectively and improves foot to core sequencing (the chain of muscle contractions from the foot up to the hip and into the core).
2. Strengthen the muscles involved in keeping a strong posture that engage when falling off balance. These include the glutes and the trunk (thoracic spine and rib cage). Exercises like lunges (in multiple directions), planks, and Supermans help coordinate and strengthen muscle activation patterns that can help catch someone during a fall.
3. Proper breathing techniques can stabilize and activate the deep muscles in the core, which reduces the need to brace or catch yourself, preventing a fall in the first place.
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