Exercises to improve balance

Loss of balance and falls are problems that can affect some people, when they are standing, moving or getting up from a chair, for example. In such cases, an assessment of the balance must be made by a physiatrist or physiotherapist, in order to prepare the most suitable exercises.

Postural balance or stability is a term used to describe the process by which the body's position remains stabilized, when the body is at rest (static balance) or when it is in motion (dynamic balance).

Exercises to control static balance

Activities to promote balance control include making the person remain seated, semi-kneeling or standing, on a firm surface, and may:

  • Try to support yourself, with one foot in front of the other, on one leg;
  • Try to maintain balance in squatting positions;
  • Perform these activities on soft surfaces, such as foam, sand or grass;
  • Making the support base narrower, moving your arms or closing your eyes;
  • Add a secondary task, like catching a ball or doing mental calculations;
  • Provide resistance by means of hand weights or elastic resistance.

The ideal is to perform these exercises with the help of a physical therapist.

Exercises to control dynamic balance

During the dynamic balance control exercises, the person must maintain a good weight distribution and the upright postural alignment of the trunk, and can do the following:

  • Stay on moving surfaces, such as sitting on a therapeutic ball, standing on proprioceptive boards or jumping on an elastic mini-bed;
  • Overlapping movements, such as transferring body weight, rotating the trunk, moving the head or upper limbs;
  • Vary the position of the open arms beside the body over the head;
  • Practice step exercises, starting with small heights and progressively increasing the height;
  • Jump objects, jump rope and jump off a small bench, trying to keep your balance.

These exercises should be performed with the guidance of a physical therapist.

Exercises to control reactive balance

Reactive balance control involves exposing the person to external disturbances, which vary in direction, speed and amplitude, training balance in these situations:

  • Work to gradually increase the amount of oscillation in different directions when standing on a firm stable surface
  • Maintain balance, standing on one leg, with the torso erect;
  • Walk on a balance beam or lines drawn on the ground, and lean your torso, with one foot in front of the other or on one leg;
  • Standing on a mini trampoline, rocking board or sliding board;
  • Take steps by crossing your legs in front or behind.

To increase the challenge during these activities, predictable and unpredictable external forces can be added, for example, lifting identical boxes in appearance but with different weights, picking up balls with different weights and sizes or while walking on a treadmill, stop and restart suddenly or increase / decrease the belt speed.

Also learn how to develop balance in babies.