By Gina Redican
Many of us can agree that our balance isn’t what it used to be. Loss of balance is the leading risk factor in falls and work-related injuries and deaths. As we age, our varying physiological systems do not interact with each other the way they used to, thus changing our center of
gravity, and increasing what is known as postural sway. If you stand with your feet together, arms at your side and head facing forward you will feel your body moving slightly in a circle; that is postural sway, and this circle will grow larger with your eyes closed (or as your eyesight worsens.) Good balance is mainly maintained in your toes and feet. As our balance decreases, the muscular action moves up the body until we are trying to “roll the windows down” with our arms to stay upright.
Although aging cannot be stopped and an increase in postural sway is normal, there are many exercises that can improve our balance and decrease postural sway. Here are some very simple examples of exercises you can do at home with no equipment.
Be sure to do these exercises near something stable to grasp. You can always begin by holding on as lightly as you can, striving to not need support.
Perform 3 sets of each exercise:
Standing up straight, shoulders back and arms out to the side, slowly walk 15-20 steps in a straight line, pausing 1-2 seconds each time you lift your foot.
Begin with feet together, slowly place one foot in front of the other so your heel is touching your toes. Repeat for 15-20 steps. Take your time and be sure you are shifting your weight from heel to toe as you step.
Rock the Boat:
Start by standing with feet shoulder width apart, arms out to the side. Shift your weight to your right leg, lifting your left off the floor, and bending your knee to bring your heel towards your bottom. Perform for 30 seconds on each leg.
Stand for 30 seconds on your left leg, while your right knee is lifted to 90 degrees from the floor in front of you. Repeat on right leg.
If you feel your balance is very poor, consult with your physician for recommendations of remedies that are right for you.