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Top tips for improving your balance

25th September 2020

 

As you age and start to feel a little older, there are a number of areas where your body starts to struggle and you often need the assistance of mobility aids such as walk-in showers or baths and stair lift options. Balance is one of the things that starts to deteriorate as you age but is something that can be controlled and taken charge of with a little work and persistence.

Jade Beckett, an experienced inclusive yoga teacher from Pride Yoga talks about balance and the importance of it. 

“Building good balance as we age is fundamental. Having good balance means we are less susceptible to falls, which is a key concern for the over 60s and this can often be related to balance issues.”

Jade continues and explains why it is so important to keep the body moving as you get older: “As we age, it can be tempting to stop moving, but it is really crucial that we continue to move our bodies in functional ways. There is a physiology law called Davies’ Law which essentially says, ‘use it, or lose it’. This means if we want to maintain balance we actually need to balance and move in ways that facilitate us using those skills”.

Your balance is key to avoiding unnecessary falls and bumps as you start to feel less stable on your feet, but there are a number of exercises and activities that can boost the ability to balance. Carry on reading to find some top tips that’ll improve your balance and mobility, for a more active way of life.

Add exercises into your routine

 

Small exercises, done little and often are a great way to improve your balance, from simple activities that you can incorporate into your daily routine that have limited impact on the body.

Julie Robinson from Move It or Lose It spoke about balance and older age, explaining why balance can be important as you get older:

“As we are living longer, staying active and strong is vital to help us stay independent and do the things we enjoy without fear of falling. We often don’t recognise our balance is declining, so don’t delay, start doing simple balance exercises every day.”

She also recommends you add small balance exercises into your routine, these can be incorporated into your usual daily activities: “Build balance exercises into your daily routine so it becomes a natural habit. When you’re washing up, raise and lower your heels, when you’re brushing your teeth, try doing it on one leg. Use the kitchen work surface to hold onto at your side, then try walking heel to toe as if on a tightrope and always start by having something solid to hold onto until you become more confident. If you’re concerned about your balance, find a specialist instructor to help you improve your strength and gradually introduce exercises for better balance.”

Whilst you’re cooking, sitting on your sofa or in bed, try raising and lowering your legs, trying to stay as still as possible and do the same with your arms, you will soon notice differences in your strength which in turn will help your balance.

Focus on your feet

 

Your balance is based on your ability to stay stable on your feet, so to improve the stability you have, focusing on your feet is really important. Jade explains a little more about your feet and balance:

“Your feet are the foundation we balance on. As a population, we often have very underdeveloped foot muscles. We wear tight-fitting shoes which push our toes together meaning our foot muscles don't develop or switch on, and our inner and outer arches collapse. This means that our foot isn’t active, the leg muscles aren’t switched on and we find our balance isn’t there when we need it to be.”

Jade went into more detail about some of the simple feet exercises you can do at home to activate the muscles in your soles and your toes:

  • “Make sure the feet are planted firmly - lift all the toes, spread them as wide as you can then drop each toe down to the floor individually. Spreading the toes and dropping them down takes practice and develops strength across the length and width of your feet. You can do this seated if you need to, but eventually, want to progress to standing. 
  • “Press down through the knuckle behind the big toe, baby toe and back of the heel. ⁠
  • “Press your foot down into the floor a bit like you were trying to balance on something slippery. ⁠This helps fire up the muscles in the soles of your feet.”

Practise Yoga

 

Yoga is known for its beneficial body improving qualities, but it is also amazing for helping those who find balancing a little tougher as they get older. Yoga is a great way to loosen the muscles in the body, building strength and enabling you to focus on specific areas of your body at one time.

The team at Trinity Hearing and Balance reported on how they think yoga can benefit the body: “Whether you want to practice yoga because of a vestibular disorder or to improve your balance, you’re on the right track. Yoga helps with balance, focus, movement, and coordination. Rather than focusing on poses and being still, balance comes from movement, mastering transitions, and developing your strength.”

You can practise yoga in your home or join a gym or class that holds yoga classes for all age ranges. If you’re wanting to practise it in your home, make sure you make plenty of space, whether that is in your living room by moving some furniture or in your garden if you have enough space, and invest in a yoga matt to offer your knees and body a little extra support whilst on the floor.

If there is anything you should focus on as you get older, it is balance. Balance aids you in many ways, from just walking to cooking and doing day-to-day tasks so you don’t require mobility aids or wheelchairs, so making sure you are as balanced as you can be will really help you along the way.

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.