I feel unsteady when I walk on uneven surfaces, is there something I can do?
Yes, with some testing Margaret will be able to identify what areas you need to work on to improve your balance. As the saying goes, unless you use it you lose it! Just 5 minutes of balancing exercises a day will make a significant improvement in our stability.
How does my balance system work?
In order to balance, we rely on three systems in our body:
- Our vestibular system or inner ear.
- Our visual system or our eyes.
- Our somatosensory system also known as our joint and muscle position sensors.
The exercises listed below are to help train your joint and muscle sensors. These exercises use very little or no equipment and can be done in the comfort of your home. Margaret can do testing to determine if you need vestibular training.
How do I prepare myself for working on my balance?
Stand in stocking or bare feet. Keep the arch of your foot dynamic and not flattened out. Keep your knee over your feet. Stand with your ear, shoulder hip and ankle all in alignment. Imagine your tucking your belly button into the small of your back with your pelvis in a neutral position. Maintain this position whenever possible throughout the program.
Can you take me through some exercises that work on my balance?
Start by standing between two chairs.
1. Place your feet together holding the chairs, let go of one and then the other chair. Hold this position for 20 seconds.
2. If you feel steady with your feet close together then do the following steps a – c with your feet together otherwise stand with feet shoulder width apart to do the following:
- Sway your body side to side; keep your body straight and do not pick up your feet or bend your knees – move as though you were a solid structure from your ankles to the top of your head.
- Sway your body forward and backward (onto the balls of your feet then onto your heels).
- Imagine that your body is cone shaped with the point of the cone at your feet and the round part at your head, keeping your feet still – see how perfectly round you can make the circle- circle in both directions.
3. Holding the top of each chair transfer your weight to one foot and pick up the opposite foot. You should not let your raised foot rest on your supporting leg.
When you feel confident release the chair with one hand, then the other and hold this for up to 30 seconds with your eyes open. Repeat the test standing on the opposite foot. If you are successful you can go to exercise #7. If you cannot hold for 30 seconds go to exercise #4
4. Staying between the chairs you can now take a full step forward and hold that position. Repeat with the other leg forward.
5. Step forward with your feet on a line but several inches apartas if walking a tight rope, with one foot directly in front of the other. Repeat with the other leg forward.
6. Now bring your feet closer together so that your heel of your forward foot is touching the toes on the back foot. Repeat with the other leg forward.
7. Keeping your left foot in place during first half of the exercise; step forward onto the right leg as if to take a step, transfer weight onto the right leg and then step backward onto the right leg; repeat the motion 6 times. Repeat on the other side
8. Repeat as in #7 but now step in line—as if walking a tight rope.
9. Standing on one foot as in the 2nd exercise; move the opposite leg in slow controlled movements forwards, return to your side, sideways, return, backwards return. Build up to repeating the sequence 6 times on each leg.
How do I make the exercise program more challenging?
You can modify any of the exercises and create new challenges:
- On a softer surface such as a thick carpet, an exercise mat, out on the grass or in sand!
- Keeping your arms crossed in front of you.
- You can also train with a partner and toss a ball back and forth, under hand, overhead, from the right, from the left.
- You can cover one eye or close your eyes.
Are there Gym Ball exercises that can help me with my balance?
The following exercises should be done once you have received personal instruction and have been fitted for the correct size ball.
- Sitting pelvic tilts, pelvic shifts, pelvic circles on the ball.
- Sitting knee lifts.
- Sitting leg lifts with extended leg.
- Four point balance on the ball.
- Three point balance on the ball.
- Kneeling on the ball.