Maintaining strength and balance is crucial for our health, especially as we age. Falls are a leading cause of injury and hospitalisation among older adults—and weakened muscles and poor balance can make us more susceptible to these accidents.
Yet, prioritising strength and balance aren’t just for individuals of a certain age. From athletes to the average person, strength and balance are essential to avoid pain and injury. In this article, we explore the importance of maintaining strength and balance and how it can help prevent injury and promote overall health and longevity.
How Strength and Balance Help to Avoid Injury
Maintaining strength and balance are two essential components of a healthy body that can help individuals lead healthy and happy life. Strength training helps to stabilise the body and protect against injury by absorbing the impact of falls or sudden movements. Strong muscles also provide better support for joints, which reduces the risk of joint damage. For instance, a strong core can help prevent lower back pain and injuries, while strong leg muscles can help prevent knee and ankle injuries.
In addition to strength, balance is also critical to avoid injury. Good balance allows individuals to maintain proper posture and alignment, reducing stress on joints and muscles. This helps prevent falls, which can be particularly dangerous for older adults. Moreover, balance training can also improve our ability to sense the position, location, and movement of our bodies. This increased awareness can help individuals react quicker in the case of an accident.
Exercises to Improve Strength and Balance
Do your strength and balance need work? Luckily, numerous exercises can help improve strength and balance. Here are five examples of exercises that are particularly effective and that you may just want to add to your regular routine!
Squats are an excellent exercise for building lower body strength and improving balance. They work the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, as well as the core muscles.
To perform a squat, stand with your feet hip-width apart, bend the knees, and lower the body until the thighs are parallel to the floor. Then, stand up straight again. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
Lunges are an effective lower body exercise that improves strength and balance. They work for the same muscle groups as squats but require more stabilisation from the core muscles.
To perform a lunge, step forward with one foot and lower the body until both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Then, push off the front foot and return to standing. Do these six to 10 times on each leg.
3. Single-Leg Deadlifts
Single-leg deadlifts are a challenging exercise that targets the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back muscles. They also require balance and stabilisation from the core muscles.
To perform a single-leg deadlift, stand on one leg and hinge forward at the hips while reaching the opposite leg back behind you. Keep the back straight and engage the core muscles to maintain balance. Repeat six to 10 times on each leg.
If you find the exercise difficult, don’t worry. You can try doing it on both legs instead. You can even challenge your core and balance by practicing a simple single-leg stance: Hold your balance on one leg for as long as you can and then switch to the other side.
4. Standing Yoga Poses
Standing yoga poses, such as tree pose or warrior pose, are excellent for improving balance and building lower body strength. These poses require concentration and mindfulness, which can also help improve bodily awareness.
Planks are an effective core exercise that also requires balance and stabilisation from the body. To perform a plank, start in a push-up position with hands directly beneath the shoulders and toes on the ground. Engage the core muscles and hold the body in a straight line from head to heels for as long as possible. Perform this exercise one to six times per day, holding as long as you can.
Maintain Your Strength and Balance With Physiotherapy
It’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional or certified fitness instructor before starting a new exercise routine. Our experienced physiotherapists and exercise physiologist at Turramurra Sports & Spinal Physiotherapy can help you create a personalised exercise program to help you maintain strength and balance at any age. Contact us today to book your appointment!