17 August, 2011
Balance-Improving Functional Exercises
Whether you are trying to improve your agility for athletics or every day functioning, doing exercises that improve your balance will help you become more stable on your feet. Balance exercises range from very simple to more complex, and can help those who are elderly, recovering from an injury or just trying to improve their balancing skills. By incorporating these exercises into your daily routine, you will gain strength and reduce your risk of injury.
Single Limb Stance
The single limb stance is a beginner's exercise typically used by the elderly to prevent falls. Hold on to a chair back with both hands; stand on one leg for a few seconds and then switch to the other leg. Build up to a minute on each leg. As your balance improves, hold onto the chair with only one hand, then just the finger tips and then no hands at all. This will help develop single leg strength as well as upright balance to improve your functions involved with walking and other mobility tasks.
The grapevine exercise can improve balance, agility and foot coordination. Do this exercise in your kitchen or somewhere you have access to a counter to hold onto as you move several steps to the right and left. Start by holding onto the counter for balance and stand with your feet together. Step your left foot over your right foot and then step your right foot to the side to uncross your feet. Continue stepping this way for a few steps and then go back in the other direction in the same manner. As your balance improves, hold onto the counter with one hand, then just the finger tips and then no hands at all.
The balance step knee-up helps develop stability on one foot and improves functionality for walking, hopping and climbing stairs. Start with your feet hip-width apart and your hands down by your sides. Take a big step forward with your left foot and then lift up your right knee. Hold for a moment and then put your right knee down and step back with your right foot. Raise your left knee and then hold that position for another moment to complete one rep. Do 10 reps and then switch legs. To make the exercise more challenging and improve balance further, hop rather than step with each movement.
Agility Ladder Drill
This is a more advanced balancing exercise for those who are trying to develop better agility and foot coordination. This exercise, which requires the use of a ladder, follows an in-in-out pattern made by your feet. Start by standing to the left of the ladder with your knees slightly bent and your feet about shoulder-width apart. Step in to the first opening on the ladder with your right foot -- this is the first "in." Follow with your left foot for the next "in." Step your right foot out of the ladder and forward to the side of the next opening -- this is the "out." Step the left foot forward so that it is inside of the next opening and even with your right foot. Put your right foot inside of the same opening next to your left foot. Continue using this pattern for the length of the ladder. As your balance and agility improve, go faster or hop with each step.
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