9 Balance and Stability Exercises to Improve Your Coordination and Strength
Balance training can stabilize us, even out the body, and help prevent falls, which is especially important as we age. But don't assume these moves are just for "old" people—balance is involved in everything we do. This workout is strength training for your core and legs, and it can be very challenging. "Your core is the foundation of all movements, especially in stabilization work," says Duana Soeda Stinson (shown in the workout video), a NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES) and Pilates instructor based in New York City.
To get your middle involved in this routine, created for Health by Duana (@damnduana), breathedeep through the ups and downs of each move. And to get your backside to light up, make sure you're grounding down through the big toe, pinky toe, and heel of the foot, she says. Here are the moves that'll help you find your footing and stay there—no matter what aims to throw you off balance.
Do each exercise below in order. Repeat for 3 rounds.
Grab a tennis or lacrosse ball. Focusing on the arch, roll the ball from the big toe to the heel and back, then from middle toe to the heel and back, then from the pinky toe to the heel and back. Pause wherever you feel a tight spot. Next, anchor the heel to the ground, and with the tennis ball at the ball of the foot, move your foot like a windshield wiper, rolling side-to-side. Lastly, with the ball at the arch of the foot, curl the toes over top of the ball to feel a stretch through the foot. Do this for 2 minutes on each foot to loosen them up and get them ready to engage.
Chair Pose with Heel Raise + Spine Stabilization
Start standing with feet together. Place a tennis or lacrosse ball between your ankles to keep your feet parallel, and engage the inner thighs. Lift arms in front of you to shoulder height. Send hips back into a shallow squat position. Lift heels, pause, then lower them back down. Repeat 4–8 times. Then, holding the heels up, lift the arms straight up overhead, biceps by ears, pause, then lower them back down to shoulder height. Repeat 4-8 times.
Single-Leg Standing Clamshells + Kickback
Start standing on left leg, knee soft. Bend right leg and place a tennis or lacrosse ball at the back of right knee, squeezing it so it doesn't fall. Lift right knee up and out to the side, externally rotating right hip for a clamshell. Then lower back down. Repeat 4–8 times. Next, still standing on the left foot and squeezing the lacrosse ball, drive the right heel straight back for a kickback. Maintain a neutral spine with core engaged. Return knees together. Repeat for 4-8 reps. Then do both moves on the other side.
Figure 4 to Straight Leg Pulse
Start standing on the left leg and place the right ankle over the left thigh for a figure 4 position. Send the hips down and back, hinging only slightly forward (think: single-leg squat). Drive through the left foot to stand back up. Repeat for 4-8 reps. Then, still standing on the left leg, straighten the right leg out in front, hinging slightly at the hip. Lift and lower the right leg a couple inches for a pulse, using the core to help lift the leg. Repeat for 4-8 reps. Then repeat both moves on the other side.
Hip Mobility to Extension
Start standing on the left leg and pull the right knee in toward the chest, standing tall with core engaged and left glute activated. Then, make a circle with the right knee, taking it out to the side, back, and then forward again. Repeat for 8 reps. Then, still standing on the left leg, extend the right leg behind you, and holding it straight, pulse it up and down a couple inches, using the right glute to lift for 8 reps. Then, repeat both moves on the other side.
Start standing on right leg, toes turn slightly outward. Leaning slightly to the right, drive left knee up toward chest, then extend the knee to kick the heel straight out to the side. Pull knee back in, then lower leg. Repeat for 5 reps. Then switch sides.
Adduction Glider with Heel Raise
Start standing on left foot, right foot placed on a glider or towel, feet hip-width apart. Send hips back, left knee pointing forward, as you drive the right leg straight out to the side. Next, raise the left heel, and then drive through the ball of the foot as you stand up and bring the glider back to center. Make sure left knee points forward and stays over toes the entire time. Lower heel back down to reset. Repeat for 4-8 reps. Then switch sides.
Reverse Glider Lunge with Heel Raise
Start standing on left foot, right foot placed on a glider or towel, feet hip-width apart. Slowly glide right leg straight back, keeping knee straight, and bending left knee so it stacks over ankle. Next, raise the left heel, and then drive through the ball of the foot as you stand up and bring glider forward. Lower heel to reset. Repeat for 4-8 reps. Then switch sides.
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Roll Down to Side Plank to Pike
Start standing with feet about hip-width apart with feet on gliders or towels. Place hands on the floor in front of feet, bending knees softly if needed. Engaging abs and keeping torso in a straight line, drive feet back into a plank position, with shoulders over hands and back and hips aligned. Rotate heels and torso to the left (toes pointing right) as you lift right arm toward the ceiling to form a side plank position. Rotate back to center to find a regular plank. Then, pull belly button up toward spine to lift hips and drive feet back up toward hands. (If this feels too hard, bend knees and pull them in toward hands.) Repeat, this time rotating heels and torso to the right and lifting the left arm. Continue alternating for 4 reps on each side.
This article originally appeared in the December 2021 issue of Health Magazine. Click here to subscribe today!
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