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Tips and Exercises to Improve Your Balance

Losing your balance can be unnerving. As a result of this, your gait and walking speed may decline as well. Below are some tips that may assist you with these matters so you can skip, run, jog, and walk as you please!


Muscle weakness is the key culprit in taking away our sense of strength in balance and gait. This weakness is often present in our hips, thighs, and calves so making our muscles adapt to the change in activity level is the best solution to improving weakness-- although it may be easier said than done, the improvement will begin to show as we stay consistent. Dr. Cece Cook, PT, has been apart of the improvement stories for many patients in her 11 years of practicing. She welcomes patients who have had any level of difficulty maintaining balance and gait strength and highlights her top 5 tips below.


Let's get to it!


Tip #1 - Calf Raises

This looks like standing erect with your hand either at your side or resting lightly on a counter, chair, or table. Raise to the balls of your feet, then come back down to your heels. Repeat this as many times as able, with breaks as needed. This will be a great way to regain muscle density in this area and assist with the "chain of strength".


The "chain of strength" is the strengthening in one area leading to more strength in other areas of importance and relevance. For example, strengthening your hips will increase strength in your knee, which then improves your ankle support.


Tip #2 - Knee Raises and Extensions


Knee raises look like what we know as "marching stance", this exercise is done by standing straight with hands at our sides, raising our leg (while maintaining a 90 degree angle at the knee), and then bring it back down. The idea is to "march" slowly enough so that you focus on strengthening your core and not pushing up wit your feet too much. Extensions can be done in a chair and kicking out in front of you while being careful not to lock your knees. Alternating between both legs, make sure to isolate this movement to just your knees.

"The road to recovery will not always be easy, but I will take it one step at a time."

Tip #3 - DIY Obstacle Course


This looks like setting up makeshift equipment with items around your home. Going up a step or two for calf raises and using your stair rails for support, using a chair for squats, using the edges of your carpet to follow the "tightrope" method, or stacking a few books as weights for weighted exercises.


Tip #4 - Hip Abductions


Sitting down in a chair, you can do this exercise in 3 levels of difficulty. The first level would be opening and closing your legs as if you were pushing an imaginary object aside on each of your legs, The second level is the same motion but with a light resistance band, and the third level is the same motion but using ankle weights. This exercise helps build your hip strength.


Tip #5 - Walking


Lastly, everyone's favorite: walking. Walking is a great way to work on your gait and balance because it can be done with family, friends, and pets, you can enjoy scenery, and it is truly completely at your own pace. A 10 minute walk each day can be increased by 10 more minutes each week if desired and is an opportunity for you to reinforce your foot placement, improve your posture, and increase speed.


Prioritize Your Capability Level and Rest


All these tips are great ways to improve your gait and balance, but it's important to remember to prioritize your rest and not overdo your body's current capability. With time, your body will adapt, strengthen, and provide you with the flexibility you want to achieve!

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