For good balance, you have to know where in the landscape your body is, by Megan Sety
Strong muscles in your feet, ankle and lower leg help you keep your balance and to react when you lose it. But good balance also requires good proprioception – an awareness of your body in the physical space around you. It’s this awareness that helps you move confidently through the bush without having to look at every detail before you move.
These exercises build strength and proprioception. They start simple and get more complex. For each, you can stretch your arms out to the sides or rest your hands on your hips to help your balance. Or stand near a wall or sturdy chair to steady your balance.
If you have ankle or foot injuries, try these exercises with shoes on first. To challenge yourself, try them in bare feet.
Stand with your feet about hip-width apart. Lift your heels and slowly rise onto your toes, pause, and then lower your heels. Try for three sets of 10 heel lifts. Find that easy? Balance on one foot and try three sets of 10 heel lifts on each leg.
One leg balance with eyes closed
Balance on one leg. Focus on a spot on the floor about two metres in front. Keep that focus and close one eye. Then close the other eye. Imagine you are still looking at the spot on the floor in front of you. If you lose your balance, just step your other foot down and then lift it back off the floor without opening your eyes. Aim to balance for at least 30 seconds on each leg. Find that easy? Try lifting your heel as you balance.
One leg balance with movement
Balance on one leg, lifting your other knee up. Slowly stretch your lifted foot as if you’re kicking a ball. Bend your knee and push your foot back as if you are pushing a ball behind you and let your chest lean forward a little. Do this five times on each leg. You can touch your toes to the floor if you need to regain balance.
Find that easy? Balance on one leg. Turn your head and chest to the right and pause for one count, then back to the middle, pause for one count, then to the left, pause for one count. Do this five times on each leg. Still too easy? Try combining these movements.