Balance is often a missing component in many people’s exercise programs. It frustrates me to be asked by a new client, ”How do I improve my balance?” To me the answer is so simple that it’s often overlooked, do more exercises that challenge this attribute. In traditional physical therapy and rehabilitation, we would spend time balancing on a single leg while throwing a medicine ball off a trampoline, or standing on an airex pad or bosu ball. In my opinion these are balance isolation exercises and are too extreme for the regular exerciser. Many of the exercises that already make up your program can be slightly modified to, as they say, kill two birds with one stone. Don’t sacrifice time by adding 10-minutes of boring balance exercises into your program. Spend time modifying your program so you are still strengthening or increasing muscle mass, but also challenging balancing and proprioception. Here are a few examples of adding a balance component to your program:
- Single leg static row
- Single leg straight leg deadlift
- Split Squat
- Offset Loaded Walking Lunges
- Single leg dynamic row
Notice something similar with all of these exercises? They are all done while standing up. That’s genius, right? The only way to truly challenge balance is to stand on your feet in a way that compromises stability. That means doing so on one leg, a split stance, or while moving from one leg to the other. Balance is usually not very good when it isn’t being challenged enough on a daily basis. With the change in our society to being more sedentary and sitting for hours on end each day, it makes complete sense that balance would decline. So stand up and try some of these exercises to improve balance while still working towards your other health & fitness goals.
Garrett McLaughlin is an Athletic Trainer, Personal Trainer, and Certified Active Release Techniques Provider in the Greater Nashville area. In addition to fitness and rehabilitation, Garrett compliments his programs with soft-tissue manual therapy to help his clients restore proper function and stay injury-free. For more information, contact Garrett.