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Balance is key to staying upright

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Balance is key to staying upright!

by Sandy Willoughby, PT, CSCS, CAPP-O

While rushing to put on my yoga pants the other day, I almost fell.   I was standing on one leg and shoving the other one through the pant leg, or TRYING to, when my foot caught and I almost went down.  You may be thinking this was an isolated occurrence but I assure you it’s not the first time I’ve caught my foot (and I can’t be alone in this).   The key point here is that I didn’t fall and I credit practicing balance skills as the reason why.

I’m lucky that part of my job is demonstrating balance skills to clients so I do get the opportunity to practice balancing more than most multi-tasking Moms who get their foot caught in yoga pants.  And there have been many times I have been grateful that I can stand on one leg for seconds or keep my balance on one leg while quickly moving to the other foot.  If you have ever showered in a state campground you understand the art of delicately balancing on one leg while drying and dressing the other to avoid putting that foot down and needing to start all over again.  Or, how about trying to jump across a stream or step over a downed log while snowshoeing?

The fact is, most people tend to lose their balance skills as they age and there are many reasons why this is.  But, we also know that balance skills can be improved with some very simple exercises and should continue to be practiced while we are going about living our lives.   

Take the one leg standing needed to put on a pair of pants -  to practice at home, stand near a sturdy surface like the kitchen counter and see how many seconds you can stand on one leg (without touching the counter;  without touching the non-standing leg to the standing leg;   without touching the non-standing leg to the floor).  It doesn’t matter how many seconds you can hold, this is your starting point and a place to build from.  Your goal would be to hold your balance 30-60 seconds.  Make sure you’re safe, painfree and smiling.

images photo courtesy of www.fitwithandrea.com/

Another simple exercise is the “sobriety test” balance skill – stand near the kitchen counter, place one foot in front of the other and see how long you can hold.  No cheating!  Get your baseline and build from there up to 30-60 seconds.  Remember to switch feet and repeat.    This will improve your tight rope walking skills, should you care to take up a new sport.  On a serious note, this can help your balance with walking since you are practicing keeping your balance with a narrow base of support.


photo courtesy of www.preventfalls.ca/

So whether rushing to get dressed for class, trying to walk on slippery surfaces or hiking some mountain range, practicing balance skills should be part of your normal exercise routine.  You never know when it will come in handy until you need it the most!

If you you like more information on our balance program, call one of our offices to schedule a free consultation.  This is a 5-10 minute conversation about the problems you are having, after which we can guide you towards the best way to start improving your health and function.


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Petoskey, Petoskey East & Boyne City

Our Petoskey clinic is located within the Bay Street Orthopedic building, 4048 Cedar Bluff Drive. 231-347-9300 [map]

Our Petoskey East clinic is located on the corner of Mitchell & Division, 345 N. Division 231-348-7950.[map]

Our Boyne City Clinic is located in the SOBO district, 210 S Lake Street 231-459-4750 map

Charlevoix & Cheboygan

Our Charlevoix clinic is located in the Kmart Plaza, at 06510 M-66, 231-547-0380 [map] 

Our Cheboygan clinic is located south of town, 9445 N Straits Hwy, 231-627-7201 [map]

Harbor Springs & Indian River

Our Harbor Springs clinic is located next the Harbor Springs airport, 8452 M-119 Harbor Plaza, 231-348-7002. [map]                                        

Our Indian River clinic is right in the heart of downtown, 3805 South Straits Hwy, 231-238-4880. [map]