Jackie Wright – Balance and Core Stability
Grand County, Colorado
Second in a two-part series
Last week this column highlighted two effective balance and core stability exercises, the progressive unilateral stand and the seated overhead press/leg extension. This week we will add another balance and core stability exercise to your exercise tool box and provide practical methods of challenging the balance/core stability during your activities of daily living. As always, consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.
Walking The Plank Progression – (improves balance/core stability)
• Draw a straight line on the sidewalk with chalk or if you are inside, place a piece of removable tape on the floor, approximately 43 inches in length.
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• Make certain to remove any obstacles that could cause you trip or lose your balance.
• Beginning at one end of the straight line, head/neck in neutral, eyes fixed forward, rotate your shoulders back/down, lift the rib cage, pull the navel toward the spine and make certain that the shoulders, hips, knees and toes are all facing the same direction as the line.
• Rather than walking “on a balance beam” with one foot placed in front of the other, simply attempt to walk, along the straight line, leading with the right foot first, remaining straight and true to the line.
• As you reach the end of the line, make a smooth turn of 180 degrees, following your right shoulder back toward the line.
• Then, lead with the left foot and walk along the line again.
• Perform this pattern three to four times, at a consistent pace (perhaps 4-6 steps), focusing upon maintaining your balance and stability throughout, three-four times per week.
• Variation 1 – Once you have mastered the foundation exercise, attempt this with a four-inch platform (then a six-inch/eight-inch once mastered at four inches).
• As you come down off the end of the platform, step off with control and perform the same turning radius and process as the foundation exercise.
• Perform this exercise three to four times, up and back, three to four times per week.
• Variation 2 – Once you have mastered the four-inch step, then attempt the “stomp leg” version.
• Place the right foot on top of the step and the left foot on the floor and step with the right foot on the step, then on the left foot on the floor and make your way down the “plank”.
• Turn at the end of the step lightly stomping around the end and work your way back up the step on the other side to the beginning position. Then, turn and perform from the left leg lead.
• Feel the up/down motion of the body and the transfer of body weight from one foot to the other.
• In all three variations, make certain to pick your legs up from the hip joint and avoid shuffling or skimming the floor or top of the step.
Challenge the balance/core stability daily
• When possible, stand rather than sit and walk everywhere.
• Avoid sitting as much as possible.
• Regardless of position, except when sleeping or resting, keep your core muscles engaged and be mindful of your posture.
• Sit up straight, walk straight, lift with proper body mechanics and MOVE.
Next week, we discuss how making time for your exercise program is a life priority.
– Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Never Summer Fitness LLC. She can be reached at her Web site: http://www.neversummerfitness.com ; her e-mail NSFGL@comcast.net and her blog at http://www.skyhidailynews.com
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