The word, “balance” is bandied around a lot. It’s often used when talking about lifestyle habits—think “work-life balance” or living a “balanced life.”. That definition of balance refers to how we spend our time, or how we handle competing interests in our daily schedule. But there’s a very important type of balance we should be equally concerned about—the type of balance that reflects the body’s ability to remain stable when either standing or moving.
Good balance isn’t just important for gymnasts or ballerinas, it’s essential for safe and efficient functioning in our daily tasks. Balance helps protect us from accidents and injuries, like slipping on the ice or twisting our ankle on an uneven running trail. Balance is essential to performing simple activities, like going up and down stairs safely, riding a bike, or for sports like ice skating or snowboarding.
So, just how balanced are you? Take the balance test:
Stand on one leg, lift the opposite knee in the air, and let your arms hang by your sides without touching the body.
The goal is to be able to hold this stance for 30 seconds on each side without hopping around on the foot of the standing leg or using the arms to stabilize you.
If you’re feeling wobbly and want to improve your balance, here’s how:
1. Build leg strength
By strengthening the muscles that surround and support the ankles, knees, and hips, you will feel more stable and have greater agility in tasks that test your balance.
Three yoga poses to strengthen your legs:
2. Build core strength
By developing strong abdominal and back muscles, you create stability throughout the torso, while at the same time promoting a healthy body posture. Core strength helps prevent falls and promotes quick recovery from movements that could throw you off balance.
Try these two yoga poses to strengthen the core:
3. Increase Flexibility
A flexible body—along with the support of a strong core and legs—allows you to move and react with ease to movements through all ranges of motion. The combination of strength and flexibility create a powerful, but supple, body.
Try these four yoga poses to increase flexibility through different planes of movement:
Photo by Bruce Zinger Photography