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Improve Your Balance

Exercises That Increase Equilibrium

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Improve Your Balance

Balance

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Balance is the ability to maintain the center of gravity of the body while minimizing postural sway. It is a state of bodily equilibrium characterized by complete stillness, void of opposing forces on all sides. Balance is achieved through the coordination of three body systems: the vestibular system, motor system and visual system. The vestibular system is located in the inner ear, the motor system is made up of muscles, tendons and joints, and the visual system sends signals from the eyes to the brain about the current position of the body.

Staying balanced isn't a matter of staying rigidly in one spot. Balance is found by continually shifting the body to make subtle adjustments. Dancing requires thses quick changes in positioning of the body, especially in the feet, ankles, knees and hips. Because the eyes are not fixated on a single point, good balance is necessary to make smooth, complete moves.

If you think your balance could use a little improvement, the following exercises should help. Stand next to a chair or wall in case you need to catch your balance.

  • Standing barefoot, slowly rise onto the balls of the feet, pressing the toes down into the floor. Concentrate on centering the weight of the body somewhere between the heel and the big toe. Try to pull up and out of the joints, but maintain relaxed knees. Lower the heels slowly and repeat.

  • Stand on one foot on a hard surface without locking the knees. Divide the weight of the body equally between the heel and the ball of the foot. Stand in this position for one minute, then switch to the other foot.

  • Stand on one foot with the weight of the body divided between the heel and the ball of the foot. Pick up the heel and slowly turn to the left (about a 90 degree turn) on the ball of the foot, then stop and lower the heel. Repeat a few times, then switch feet. Once you’re comfortable with small turns, try whole turns.

If you lose your balance during these exercises, try to get it back quickly with the least possible adjustment. Reach out and lightly touch the chair or wall with your fingertip. When you feel steady, let go and try again.

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