4 Easy Balance Exercises to Prevent Falling

Falling can cause long term damage to your body, including broken bones, torn muscles, even brain injury. Aging and pregnancy are two major groups at risk for serious falls. 


How Aging Can Increase Fall Risk

  • Vision decrease with aging
  • Hips & legs are weaker
  • Ability to lift feet decreases
  • Interactions between drugs can cause dizziness and decrease balance
  • Low blood pressure

How Pregnancy Can Increase Fall Risk

  • Center of Gravity of Off
  • Extra Weight
  • Unable to see objects directly in front of feet
  • Other children wanting to be held/carried
  • Unable to pick feet up completely 

 

4 Simple Balance Exercises That Help Prevent Falling

All of these exercises can be done at home with objects from around the house.

Goals
1. Do not wear shoes: your feet have millions of nerves in them to hep you feel the surface and your toes help grab onto the floor for balance. Going barefoot will help stimulate these sensations and increase your balance. 
2. Do all 4 exercises for both feet 3x a day: morning, afternoon, and evening. Note if there are certain times of the day when it is easier or harder to balance. 

 

1.       Around the World

  • Place 4 or 6 objects around you in a circle or rectangle, as seen in Figure 1 (here I used small books from nearby). 
  • Stand on one foot and use the other foot to slowly touch each object on the floor.
  • Switch feet.

To make this easier hold onto a chair or stand next to the wall. For more difficulty hold your child or another heavy object. 

Figure 1: Dr. Heppe, 30 weeks pregnant, using her right foot to touch each book in the rectangle. When you have other kids around it is essential to work on balance so you do not topple over.

Figure 1:
Dr. Heppe, 30 weeks pregnant, using her right foot to touch each book in the rectangle. When you have other kids around it is essential to work on balance so you do not topple over.

figure 2: Dr. Heppe now using her left foot to touch each book, as the right foot stays in the center. 

figure 2:
Dr. Heppe now using her left foot to touch each book, as the right foot stays in the center. 

 
figure 3: Dr. Heppe, 30 weeks pregnant, using a chair for a sumo squat. 

figure 3:
Dr. Heppe, 30 weeks pregnant, using a chair for a sumo squat. 

2.       Sumo squat with chair
This helps with balance and will strengthen the hips & legs.

  • Hold onto a chair and spread feet hip width apart.
  • Go from standing to squatting, as seen in Figure 3.
  • Repeat 10x.

For more difficulty let go of chair or see how far down you can squat. 
 

 

3.      Tree pose

figure 4:  Dr. Heppe demonstrating tree pose version 1. 

figure 4: 
Dr. Heppe demonstrating tree pose version 1. 

This works balance and helps to strengthen legs.

  • Hold chair with one hand.
  • Bring bottom of foot (opposite from chair) to the area between your knee and ankle. 
  • Do not place your foot on your knee or ankle joint!
  • Hold for 1min or 6 deep breathes.
  • Switch sides.

To make this easier keep both arms down near your waist and your foot low on your leg, as seen in Figure 4.

 
figure 5:  Dr. Heppe demonstrating a more difficult tree pose.

figure 5: 
Dr. Heppe demonstrating a more difficult tree pose.

For more difficulty raise your arm or arms above your head and bring your foot to your inner thigh, as seen in Figure 5. You can also let go of the chair for more balance practice. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.      Single Limb Stance

Figure 6: Dr. Heppe performs a single leg stance while holding a chair for support. 

Figure 6:
Dr. Heppe performs a single leg stance while holding a chair for support. 

This last pose is a simplified version of a marching move, focus on keeping your back straight and not hunching forward. 

  • Raise your left leg high and your right arm, see Figure 6 for an example.
  • Hold for 10 sec.
  • Switch and lift your right leg and left arm.
  • Hold for 10sec.
  • Repeat 10x on each side. 

For more difficulty do not hold onto a chair or wall. 


Doing these 4 simple exercises daily will not only increase your overall balance, but it will increase your confidence when walking on uneven ground.