Written by: Laura Quickfall at Muscle Medicine
Balance and instability can affect function and pain more than you would imagine. Balance is a skill we take for granted but as we age, due to injury or overuse or incorrect use of our muscular skeletal system, sometimes it’s not as great as we think!
Do a quick test - stand on one foot and slowly raise yourself up on your toes. Are you as stable as you would expect? Try the other foot. If you aren’t as stable as you expected, you may need to focus on your balance.
An unstable foot can alter our whole movement pattern, it can change our posture as our bodies shift, tilt and rotate when adapting to an unbalanced lower half.
Imagine running and landing with a wobbly foot, think of how the body moves in order to protect us from falling, now think about the pressure the knee is under as the lower leg twists and tilts to cope with the instability and the upper body rotates to counter balance. It’s not difficult to understand how poor balance can affect knee pain.
If you’re running, cycling or even walking, you want to make sure your balance is good, here are a few simple exercises you can do to improve your balance.
Single leg heel lifts are a great exercise to enhance your balance. Be careful not to swing forward using your hip flexors - make sure you rise straight up.
You can start with your fingertips against the wall for stability but as you improve start moving away from the wall, watch this video on the left to see how.
You can strengthen your intrinsic calf muscles too which will help you correctly and evenly load your foot. This you can even do sitting at your desk. Sit down and cross one foot over the knee of the other, place a theraband around your feet and lift your top foot towards you like this video on your right:
The lift off or airplane exercise, stand on one leg tilt your body forward and one leg straight back behind you, like a T or an airplane, keeping the leg in the air, move your arms down towards the ground and touch the floor in front of you, to the left and to the right.
Four Point Kneeling helps to target your core to focus on stability, kneel on all fours and lift one leg behind you, then take the opposite arm out in front of you, hold this for ten seconds, then repeat on the other side.
You can also practice the double leg bridge which you will find also works your glutes. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the ground close to your body then lift your bum into the air, if you feel this in your hamstrings move your feet closer to your bum.
Of course we are able to assist in building your balance through massage by identifying where you tilt, shift and lean. Massage will create better alignment as a starting point for you to build with the above exercises. If balance is something you have identified as an issue, speak with us when you next come in.