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Top 5 Pilates moves for seniors to improve balance

As we get older, falling and losing your balance becomes a serious fear. However, this can be minimized if we increase the muscle strength and change how we train our body. Although a part of the balance detecting mechanism in the inner ear (the vestibular mechanism) is slower to react as you get older, the majority of the loss of balance is due to muscle weakness and slowness of muscle reaction, which can be trained.

The following 5 exercises will help improve your balance and reduce your risk of falling:

1. Bridging – This exercise strengthens you major buttock muscles, the Gluteus Maximus, which is important for keeping your body up straight and is one of your major propulsion muscles. If this muscle doesn’t work properly, you are unable to stand on one leg without falling.

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  • Lie on your back, with both knees bent.
  • Lift your bottom up and hold for 3 sec, then lower the bottom down.

 

2. Calf strength – The calf muscles are important for propulsion and one of the major stabilizing muscles of the foot. Weakness of these muscles means slower reactions to the change in surface on uneven ground, which can be trained.

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  • Stand up next to the wall, hands up against the wall for balance.
  • Lift your heels up off the ground to come up onto your toes and hold for 5 seconds, then lower the heels down.

 

3. Squats – Quadriceps (the muscles at the front of the thighs) are extremely important muscles for walking, getting up and down off the ground and being able to walk up and down hill.

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  • Stand with your back to the wall, with your feet out away from the wall about 30 centimetres.
  • Lower your body down, until your knee are bend to about 45 deg, keeping your back against the wall.
  • Hold for 5 seconds and then return up.

 

4. Practicing heal-toe walking – As your balance worsens, you will notice that your walking stance becomes wider and the steps become smaller. Although this stance may feel safer and more normal if your balance is poor, it means your ability to react to uneven ground becomes harder and the requirement from the muscles around the hips becomes greater.  You can practice walking in a narrower stance and improve.

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  • Find a line on the ground, for example on the footpath or the edge of a carpet.
  • Practice walking with one foot in front of the other foot.

It may seem impossible at the start, but you will improve and you will soon be able to do it with your eyes closed.

5. Standing on one leg – This may seem very scary at the start, but it can be done safely and effectively and is a very important skill to master for balance. When you walk you spend 80% of your time standing on one leg, so it is a very important skill to have.

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  • Stand in a door frame and hold onto the door frame with your hands. This will give you support.
  • Lift one leg off the ground, then let go of one hand, then the other hand (but keep them close to the door frame for support if needed).
  • Start by maintaining this one legged stance for 5 sec, then 10 seconds when confident.
  • You can also slowly take your hands further away from the door frame as you become more confident.

Over time, after practicing these simple Pilates exercises, you will be surprised how much faster and more confident you are walking with better balance.

Want to know more?

If you want more information or would like to book for a FREE full body assessment with one of our Physiotherapists or Exercise Physiologists, call us on 9857 0644 or email us atadmin@mdhealth.com.au.

Opening Hours: Mondays – Thursdays from 7am-9pm; Fridays and Saturdays 7am-2pm. We provide a Seniors discounts to all our seniors members during our off peak times. 

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