Many of the seniors I work with struggle to keep their balance during numerous activities of daily living. Because of this, I typically involve some type of balance exercise into the one on one programming I do with many of the seniors and beginners that come to me for help. One of the easiest ways to implement balance is through a standard balance progression. A standard balance progression is a way that many physical therapists test and assess balance in individuals. I often find that it is a great way to warm up the individuals who are taking my classes. Below, we will outline the basic standard balance progression that is shown in the video linked.
Basic Balancing Exercise for Seniors and Beginners – Improve Steadiness on Feet
For our standard balance progression, you won’t need any equipment in particular beforehand. I will say that I would highly recommend to get a large area open from clutter or falls risks ready for yourself. In addition to this, a strong chair is always recommended to “check” your balance and even hold onto if need be. Once you have these items, you can begin practicing the balancing exercise progression. The standard balance progression includes four parts. These include:
- Normal Hold/Wide Hold
- Feet Together Hold
- Half Step Hold
- Heel to Toe Hold
Normal Hold/Wide Hold
For the normal feet hold, you are simply going to stand in place in your normal footing stance. This is typically going to be hip width apart. You can also widen the feet a little bit further to start as well. Although this seems simple, this is actually a way to challenge your balance. For most individuals this should be fairly easy to do. With that said, it is a good point to check your balance and see how steady you are on your feet for the day.
Feet Together Hold
Once you’ve completed the normal hold properly, you can then put both of your feet together so they are completely touching. Doing this will decrease the base a little bit, and challenge your balance a little more. Always remember to have that chair near you in case you need to grab onto it quickly to prevent yourself from falling over.
Half Step Hold
Once you have mastered the feet together hold, you can begin to work on the half step hold. The half step hold involves you keeping both of your feet touching completely together. Once you do this, you will then slowly shift one foot forward, until your feet are in a half step position. This is also referred to as a “tandem” hold. Since you are narrowing your base again, you will notice that this increases the difficulty just a little bit, when compared to the previous balancing exercise progressions. Try your best to hold this position, just like the others. If you notice that this variation is too difficult to hold very long, try to go back down in progressions.
Heel to Toe Hold
Last but not least is heel to toe hold. This involves you touching your heel to toe in a static position. Another way to think about your foot placement, is to put them in a “drunk walk” or “balance beam” position. Both feet will be completely in line, offering the most challenging variation of the balancing drills we are addressing today. As with the previous exercises, if you can not complete this one without moving too much, go back down in difficulty for the balancing drills.
These are just a few of many balancing exercises that you can do to improve your steadiness on your feet, all from the comfort of your home. Do your best to keep practicing on these exercises, and you will be a balancing pro in no time!
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