From Fall Prevention To Athletics, One Simple Exercise
One simple exercise I give just about every patient I see in the clinic is balance. Simply standing on one foot can improve so many areas of a persons life. If you are finding you are feeling a bit unsteady as you are standing and walking, stand on one foot. If you are an athlete who plays on an uneven surface (soccer field or running on trails for example) or makes quick direction changes, stand on one foot. This simple exercise helps train and improve the little receptors in our joints that send quick messages back and forth about what position your joint is in, as well as train the quick reaction muscles that help stabilize our joints. Try to keep in mind, as you stand on one foot, your hip, knee and foot should be aligned, your hips should be level, and your upper half shouldn’t be leaning to the right or the left so you train your body in the proper position.
If you try this exercise and you feel like you just can’t do it without falling over, start by holding onto a counter or the back of a sturdy chair. Progressively start to hold on with just one hand and then one finger and then “look mom – no hands!” (all of these progressions should be done when you feel ready and safe to do so). If this progression seems too easy, you can make it more difficult by closing your eyes, standing on a squishy surface (a pillow or foam or even a folded up towel), or play catch or some other activity while standing on one foot. You can make it specific to your sport or activity.
Balance is something almost every patient I see struggles with to some degree at the beginning (gymnasts and skate boarders seem to be the exceptions to the rule), and it seems to be one of the slowest things to improve, so don’t be frustrated if you find it difficult or it feels like the exercise is not improving. The old saying, “practice makes perfect” holds very true with this. Give it a try and stick with it and eventually you’ll be standing on one foot like a flamingo!