Whether you’re a competitive athlete or just want to get through your daily life injury-free, balance is an important and frequently neglected part of fitness. A good sense of balance can help you to stay on your feet as you make the winning touchdown, and it can also help you keep from falling and hurting yourself when the ground’s icy and you’re carrying groceries. Stability exercises are one great way to strengthen your balance. We’ve collected some great exercises for you to try.
1. Stability Exercises without Equipment
A lot of popular stability exercises are performed with equipment like BOSU balls, and these can be very helpful. However, you can also work on improving your balance without any equipment at all.
First, try just standing on one leg. While this might sound easy, it actually is very difficult for many of us.
- Standing on your right leg, bend your left leg and raise your knee to hip height.
- Keep your stomach muscles tight and try to hold this position for up to a minute.
- Repeat on the other leg. If you want to increase the difficulty of this exercise, try doing it with your eyes closed.
- Looking in different directions can also increase the difficulty and help you improve your stability
Once you’re feeling comfortable standing on one leg, you can try mixing this in with other exercises. For example, you could try doing biceps curls while standing on one leg. Make sure that you keep your abs tight throughout the exercise, and also be careful of your knees. Don’t lock your standing leg, and don’t let it bend out to the side either. If performing exercises like this, you will probably not want to use your maximum weight.
Similarly, you can try weight shifts. In weight shifts, you stand with your legs about hip-distance apart and your weight evenly distributed between your legs. Move your weight slowly to the right side and lift your left leg up a little. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, then return the middle and repeat on the left side. With any of the previous exercises, you can also increase their difficulty by standing on a pillow.
Activities like yoga and tai chi are also great ways to strengthen your balance and improve your stability. Holding yoga poses like tree and warrior can help you to become more conscious of your body and become more used to being still and stable. Moving consciously and slowly through tai chi forms can similarly help you to become used to moving your body and to develop body awareness, both of which can be an important part of improving your balance.
2. Stability Exercises with BOSU Ball
Even if you don’t think you know what a BOSU ball is, you’ve probably seen them before. They look like someone cut an exercise ball in half and then put a plastic platform across it. A lot of great stability exercises can be performed using this sort of equipment.
- First, just practice standing on the ball. Even this simple act can be great practice and can help you to strengthen your balance.
- You can also try balancing on one leg, closing your eyes, and looking in different directions.
- You can also try performing exercises while standing on the BOSU ball. You can try doing squats, shoulder presses, biceps curls, and much more.
- You can also try doing planks on a BOSU ball for a great core workout.
3. Stability Exercises with a Foam Wedge
You can also do some great stability exercises for balance with a foam wedge (which look like foam rollers cut in half). Try performing the standing exercises mentioned earlier while standing on the wedge (circular side down). You can also try doing lunges with a foam wedge. Stand with your left leg on the flat side of the foam wedge, and step backward with your right leg into a lunge. Maintain good form throughout the motion and don’t let your knee go past your left toes. Repeat on both sides.
Important Info About Stability Exercises
Stability exercises for balance can be a great thing. They can greatly improve your fitness and diminish your likelihood of injury if you do them right. However, if you push yourself too quickly during stability exercises, you may actually be more likely to injure yourself. Never push yourself further than you feel comfortable going. Remember, if you fall and hurt yourself during your stability exercises, you won’t be doing your general health or your ability to balance any favors.
Use a partner or spotter, especially at the beginning. Also, people who have serious balance problems or muscular imbalances are often better off consulting with a medical professional and then working with either a physical therapist or personal trainer than just going it alone.