Improve your Balance

Can you stand on one leg with your eyes closed for 30 seconds?

If you can't, then you should start a balance training regime. Standing on one leg is a good measure of balance skills as it taxes the balance system as a whole. When you balance with your eyes closed the muscles and vestibular system of your inner ear are challenged to keep you upright. Foot strengthening exercises and going barefoot can help to keep the feet fit and strong.

Other simple exercises that benefit your balance and reduce your risk of falls can include walking sideways, walking backwards, sit to stand exercises for quads strength and heel to toe walking (holding on for support) can all improve your balance. Practising single leg balance for 1 minute on each leg holding onto a wall for support until you are sure you don't fall is recommended as a daily exercise.

The scientific evidence shows that the more work you do on your balance the greater the improvement. The dose required for older people is around double that for the under 40's. This could constitute 36 to 40 training sessions of at least 35 minutes for older aged people and up and16-19 sessions of 15 minutes for people underthe age of 40. Balance aand strength training can also reduce the fear of falling. So any activity that challenges you to stay upright should be started now.

For further information on balance exercises contact

Dr Jan Naughton

About the author:

Dr Jan Naughton received her PhD at Sydney University where she was lecturing in Sports Medicine and undergraduate physiotherapy. She specialises in shoulder injuries and has a sports physiotherapy practice in Wahroonga on Sydney's upper north shore working with two other specialist colleagues.

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