If you think that balance and stability is something to focus on later, rethink it. The truth is the more we age, the more our mobility matters!
How many times have you seen the life alert commercials where the elderly have fallen and they can’t get up? This is a real fear of many as they see their parents get older or if they themselves are starting to age. In fact, many of the reasons that people choose to no longer live on their own as they age, is the fear that they will need assistance doing basic movements in the future.
You use balance and stability in every basic function that you perform in your day to day life. From sitting down in a chair and standing back up, to walking or rolling over in bed. All of these moves are imperative to your mobility for the long term.
At the end of this article I am going to give you 12 balance and stability moves that you can do every day to increase your mobility.
The Basics of Mobility
Turning your head to look at someone beside you involves the stability of your neck muscles (sternocleidomastoid, upper trapezius, levator scapulae, and splenius capitus). You build these muscles as soon as you come out of the womb. Without basic mobility it becomes painful or impossible to turn your head from side to side.
Bending at the waist involves both balance and stability of your hips and spine (lumbo-pelvic hip complex). Without a strong core, you would have a difficult time bending down to pick something up or to tie your shoe.
Walking also involves the stability of your hips, lumbar spine, knees and ankles. Without stability in these key areas it would be difficult for you to walk properly. Has your foot ever fallen asleep and you get that tingly feeling that hurts but also makes you laugh? Have you ever tried getting up and walking suddenly when this happens? Que baby deer… you likely stumble due to the fact that you are not stable. Now the “falling asleep” is actually due to compressed nerves that no longer can send messages back to the brain, causing you to lose feeling in that area.
A simple fix for a foot that has fallen asleep is to stop compressing the nerve. For example, get up off of your foot if you are sitting on it, wiggle your toes, or roll your ankle back and forth until the “pins and needles” feeling subsides. It is not recommended to try and walk while you have a foot that is asleep.
These are some examples of where balance and stability are imperative to your mobility as you age.
You need balance to be able to do most every day things. Imagine a toddler learning how to walk. He or she is wobbly and unstable until they grow strength and learn how to pull their feet up underneath them for balance.
As you age, you must work on balance and stability to keep your body limber and agile.
If you choose to neglect this now, then you will suffer consequences later, and your friends or kids will buy you a life alert in case you should fall and not be able to get back up.
The Nay Sayers
I will hear from time to time, that the balance and stability work is skipped over, or it is not as tough as lifting heavy – so they thought they could focus on that part later. Here is what I will tell you, so that you don’t make the same mistake. The balance and stability exercises I give you are so important, that they play a key role in how you lift.
That’s right. Lifting, and especially heavy weights, requires a level of balance and stability. Don’t skip them because you think you are better than them. Don’t skip them because you think they are not important, or when you are icing an injury you will be sorry.
If you have a desk job and have some aches and pains from sitting too long. Check out the article here about how your mobility is impacted and how to fix it!
Never Too Late for Balance and Stability
It is never too late to work on your balance and stability. At the end when I give you the 12 exercises that you can do to increase your mobility, you will see that they can be done in the comfort of your home while you are watching Netflix.
If you are on the verge of your golden years, start now. Start increasing your mobility little by little. Work on it for 10 minuets this week, 20 minuets next week and then 30 minuets in 2 weeks. The more you work on it the more stable you will be as you get older.
Moms: Listen Up
While it is common knowledge that balance and stability effects the elderly population. One group of women that is not referenced enough when it comes to mobility is pregnant moms or postpartum moms. When you become pregnant your body starts to shift it’s balance. You will gain more in your midsection due to a growing baby, your hips widen, and your ankles will inevitably swell. (picture of me circa 2016 when I was 185 pounds and round and proud!)
Often times women are anxious to get back to “pre-baby” sexiness and they rush back into the gym or running. This can be dangerous. Many women develop diastasis recti, which is a partial or complete separation of the abdominal muscles. Depending on the amount of separation, getting back into abdominal exercises could worsen the problem.
It is best to start back slowly, and I do mean painfully slow, with exercises designed to strengthen your core muscles (more than just your abdominal muscles here) and increase your balance and stability. I have some examples for you at the end. Take your time getting back into fitness. It is not a race! If you focus on strengthening your core musculature structure, you will be able to preform better in the long run.
I am not saying that if you do these exercises that you will avoid your kids sending you to a nursing home. What I am saying is that you will be better off if you keep a handle on your mobility now, instead of having to build on it later.
If you are approaching your golden years and you want some assistance in what to do at home to increase your balance and stability. Fill out the form below and I will be happy to connect with you.
12 Balance and Stability Moves
- Foot Taps
- Seated or Standing Head Rotations
- Hip Marching Seated
- Seated Arm Raises
- Cross Body Stretch
- Heel Raises
- Slow Heel To Toe Walking
- “Tight Rope” Walking
- Standing Reverse Leg Raises
- Standing Lateral Leg Raises
- Flamingo Holds
- Push-Ups against wall or elevated surface
You can follow along to a full 60 Day Balance and Stability Challenge on my YouTube Channel.