Everyone can benefit from improved stability. Preventing falls is essential for older adults, but these kinds of exercises are vital for helping prevent injury for runners and other athletes as well. Stabilization training doesn’t guarantee you’ll never fall but it reduces the likelihood because it helps strengthen stabilizing muscles, helps the brain-body connection with proprioception, and improves reflexes.
◆ Read more on why everyone needs stability training.
Improve your strength and balance with these stability exercises:
Read the descriptions here, and see them in action in the video below. When possible, try doing these barefoot, at least some of the time; this helps strengthen muscles in the feet, and feeling the floor with your feet helps you balance better. Spread your toes to give yourself a solid foundation.
1- Knee raise with ankle rotation, then hip rotation.
Balance on one foot, raise the other knee as high as you comfortably can, then rotate the ankle one way and then the other while maintaining balance. Then, keeping the bent knee high, rotate your leg out to the side and to the front several times. Switch sides and repeat.
2- Lateral leg raise.
Balance on one foot, then bring the other leg up to the side while keeping it as straight as possible. Try to maintain an upright torso.
3- Standing bird-dog.
Balance on one foot, then extend the other leg behind you as you extend the opposite arm in front of you. You don’t have to get horizontal here, just aim for an extension of that arm and leg, and try to do it smoothly and somewhat slowly. If you are new to balance exercises, you may keep one hand lightly on a wall or countertop to help you balance as you practice. You’ll get there!
4- Single-leg reach.
Similar to the standing bird-dog, but here we’re using both arms. Keep a bend in the knee you’re standing on, while trying to keep the other leg (the one you’re extending behind) in a straight line from shoulder to heel. Again, don’t worry about how far you go; the goal is not to reach the floor, but to keep hips square and to not hunch shoulders/torso in an attempt to reach closer to the floor.
This one can be tricky to do well but it’s a good one!
5- Tightrope walk.
Go ahead: imagine you’re daringly crossing a canyon on one of those crazy rope bridges! Put arms out to your side, then walk with one foot in front of the other in as narrow a line as possible.
Make it harder: stay up on your toes and/or try it backwards, too! No worries if you can’t do this — yet!
6- Knee up to lateral raise.
I feel a little like a sea-star in this one. Start with one bent knee raised high in front of you, then extend that leg out to the side like a slow-motion kick, and return to starting position.
Practice stability exercises often!
These exercises are great as part of a warm up before your run or workout, but you can just as easily do them while standing in the kitchen waiting on your tea to steep (or coffee to brew). Try to do these at least three days a week. Try for 10 reps on each side for each exercise, but if you need to start with fewer reps or just do one or two of these exercises at a time, that’s fine. Some is always better than none!
If the video above isn’t showing up properly, trying viewing it here.
Owner/Coach. Powered by tea, books, & sunshine. I help people build stronger, more resilient bodies — because fitness isn’t as much about what we do in the gym as what it helps us do beyond the gym.