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April 2017 Issue
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The best way to improve tramping balance

At times like this, you’ll be grateful you did your balancing exercises. Photo: Tony Gazley

Every tramper knows the importance of balance, especially over difficult terrain.

One of the best ways to improve balance is to stand on one leg while barefoot. When you do this, you wobble and that wobbling uses the muscles in your calf, ankle and foot to maintain balance. Strengthen those and you’ll improve your balance overall and decrease the risk of ankle strains and sprains when on the track.

There are some fun ways to practise balancing on one foot. Start with bare feet and put your socks and shoes next to you on the floor. While balancing on one foot, try to put your sock and shoe on the other foot without letting it touch the floor. Count how many times your foot hits the floor to avoid falling over. The goal is to get that to zero!

If you’ve mastered that and want more challenge, try these variations. If you find it a challenge to balance on one leg, rest your hand on a wall or chair.

  1. Change your point of focus. Try looking right or left, up or down. Or try closing one or both eyes. Your ability to balance depends on the nervous system communicating with the brain and body to constantly adjust to your circumstances. Your eyes help contribute to that process.
  2. Once you are stable on one leg, create instability by moving your arms or your lifted  leg.
  3. Lift the heel of the foot on which you are balancing to stand on your toes (don’t let your ankle roll out to the side). Easy? Try lifting and lowering your heel several times without letting your heel touch the floor.