How to Improve Balance – 6 Exercises and Stretches to Increase Stability

Whether you’re a beginner in balance, recovering from a fall, or training for a parkour run, having stability is vital in life.

Person balancing on a rock
Balance is needed for everyday activities – source

Balance can improve your posture, reduce the chances of falling, and help you gain muscles along the way.

Check out these exercises and stretches that will help center you, increase strength, and improve flexibility so you can move through life with ease and comfort.

These are moves ranging from beginner all the way to advanced, allowing you to use them on any step in your fitness journey!

How to Test Your Current Balance

Here are some super simple ways to test the current state of your balance.

Stand Straight

Just standing can let you know if you feel off or lack stability.

It can give you insights into your posture or tension along your legs, spine, and neck. 

Make sure your weight is evenly distributed throughout your entire foot and equally between legs.

Stand on One Foot

Standing on one foot is a simple balance move that can be quite challenging. See if you can do this and how long you can hold the position.

Stand on the Balls of Your Foot

Standing on your tiptoes (or more accurately, the balls of your feet) requires increased activation of the calf, glute, and core muscles.

Doing this will show you how well these muscles work together and stabilize you.

6 Exercises for Improved Balance and Stability

Here are 6 exercises perfect for increases balance and stability!

Walk Heel to Toe

Yup, simple walking is an amazing exercise for balance.

Though you may not realize it, as you walk, you use the balance in walking from one place to another.

The act of rolling from your heels to your toes, shifting your weight from one foot to the other, requires balance, stability, and core.

Walking is also a great way to increase cardiovascular health, clear the mind, and improve stamina.

Walking heel to toe specifically and mindfully will improve posture and balance more so than stomping around.

Try to hold in-between a step, with the leg in front of you on your heels and the other leg on the toes.

This in-between step will help you memorize and improve the balance it takes to simply walk.

Supine Twist

A supine twist is done from the ground.

Lie down with your back on the ground, legs straight before you. Bend one of your legs up towards your chest, holding your knee closer. 

You should feel this stretch on the tops of your thighs, hips, and glute.

Now draw the leg over to the opposite side (e.g. right leg goes left) and twist your upper body towards the hip of the bent leg.

This is a supine twist, which helps to improve posture, release tension in the spine and lower back, and opens the hips.

It can even help strengthen the back muscles while opening up the shoulders and chest.

Abdominal Exercises (not just crunches)

Yup, anything that requires balance requires core strength.

The core is vital to stabilizing the body and allowing you to move with ease.

Most everything, whether it is daily movement or intense exercise, requires core strength.

Core exercises include plank position, with different variations available to increase or decrease intensity. Other moves include leg lifts and crunches.

Tired of crunches? Check out this list of exercises better than crunches to strengthen the entire core and abdominal muscles.

Calf Raises

Calf raises strengthen the muscle of your lower legs, and glutes, all the way to your ankles.

In fact, calf raises increase ankle mobility and flexibility in the ankles, which further improves overall balance.

For a simple calf raise, stand with your legs shoulder-width apart. Raise onto the toes, flexing the glutes and calves. Slowly lower down and repeat.

Raising and lowering your entire body weight is already an effective exercise to work out the lower part of the body.

To increase the intensity, add weight, holding dumbbells in either hand.

For increased movement, do your calf raises on a step, allowing you to go down further.

Tree Pose 

Tree pose is a yoga position that is amazing for core strength and balance.

Stand straight with your head high, legs shoulder-width apart, hips aligned.

Slowly, bend one leg, drawing it up along the standing leg. 

Start to twist the leg so the foot is pressed against the upper thigh of the standing leg and hold the position for a couple of seconds. 

Do what feels comfortable with your arms, either holding them by your sides, stretching out for stability, or reaching towards the sky for intensity.

Pistol Squats

Squats in and of themselves strengthen the lower body and glutes, improve ankle mobility, stabilize knee joints, and even activate the core.

Pistol squats are one-legged squats, which challenge you to maintain balance, strength, and flexibility throughout the movement.

Stretch one leg out in front of you, balancing on one leg. Slowly start to lower down in a squat.

The range of motion is up to you! Maybe you just lower a foot before rising again.

If needed, assist yourself with a wall or chair until you build up the strength to lower completely up and down.

Tips for Balance and Flexibility 

Here are some quick tips to make your balance practice just a little easier.

  • When standing on one foot, focus on a point in front of you. This will help you balance more.
  • Engage your core by drawing the navel back towards the spine and up. This will stabilize the entire body.
  • Stand straight, head lifted, shoulders back. Good posture improves balance and stability greatly. 
  • Start small and work your way up. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Work your way up from easy moves to more challenging poses to steadily increase strength and reduce the risk of injury.

The Takeaway 

Balance is required to move through life in any capacity.

Increasing balance will allow you to move with ease, having a good sense of self and range of motion.

Balance can almost be considered a total-body move as it activates the core, leg, and back muscles greatly.

Work on ways to improve and increase your balance to support the body and increase fitness, a little bit at a time!

Core workouts are great as the abdominal muscles stabilize the body.

Leg exercises are also incredibly important to balance and stability.

Even the simple act of walking involves balance as you shift your weight from one leg to another.

Remember, fitness is a journey that begins with a single step! Find small ways to make big changes to your health and fitness today.

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