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Simple At-Home Balance Drills

April 22, 2024 3 min read

Simple At-Home Balance Drills

Based on a video by Dan Ritchie from the Functional Aging Institute.

Maintaining functional movement patterns as we age is crucial for preserving independence and quality of life. Whether it's reaching for objects on a high shelf or bending down to pick something up from the floor, these seemingly mundane tasks become increasingly challenging as we get older if we neglect our balance and mobility.

But fear not! Incorporating simple balance drills into your daily routine can be the key to aging gracefully and staying upright. You don't need fancy equipment or hours of time to devote to these exercises – just a few minutes each day can make a world of difference.

In this post, we'll explore five balance drills that are easy to implement, effective, and require nothing more than your own body. These drills are designed to target various aspects of balance and stability, helping you build a strong foundation to support you well into your golden years. So let's dive in and discover how you can maintain your balance and independence with these simple yet powerful exercises.


1.  Floor to Overhead Reach Start with a simple warm up to get the blood flowing and joints moving: with feet about hip width apart, bend at the knees and hips to touch the floor with your fingertips (or get as close as you can). Straighten to an upright position and then reach your hands over head, extending your arms fully. Try to keep your head facing forward - fixing your gaze at a point on the wall about 10 feet ahead can help. Repeat for 20x.

2. Tandem or Semi Tandem Floor to Overhead Reach Next you will be doing the same movement but challenging your muscles, joint and vestibular system a bit more by adopting a tandem stance. Place one foot in front of the other with your heel and toe touching. If this isn’t available to you, move your feet out to the sides a bit so that there is about 4 - 6 inches of width between the toe of one foot and heel of the next. If you’re still having difficulty you can move your front foot forward a bit creating more space between your feet front to back.

In this tandem stance bend to touch the floor then straighten and extend your arms above your head 10 repetitions.  Reverse your feet so the opposite one is in front and do another 10 repetitions.

3. Floor to Overhead Reach with Feet Touching Place your feet close together with your big toes touching each other and heels together as though you are standing in a small box. Repeat the floor touch to overhead reach for 20 repetitions.

4.  Marching on Tip-Toes With feet shoulder distance apart raise your heels so you are on the balls of your feet and begin marching. March for 20 repetitions trying not to let your heels touch the floor. Move your feet further apart for wide stance marches and repeat another 20 repetitions. For an added challenge hold a weight either out in front of you with arms extended, or overhead.

5.  Marching on Heels With feet shoulder distance apart again raise your toes and balls of your feet so that your weight is on your heels and do the same marching drill trying not to let the front of your feet touch the floor. You will probably find this to be more challenging than marching on your toes. Take extra care with this one as you will probably feel like you are going to fall backwards.  Ensure the area around you is clear in case you need to take some steps back to regain your balance. Repeat another 20 repetitions in the extra wide stance again.

Incorporating these five balance drills into your daily routine can yield remarkable benefits for your overall stability and mobility, helping you age gracefully and maintain your independence. By targeting different aspects of balance, joint mobility, and proprioception, these exercises provide a well-rounded approach to enhancing your functional movement patterns.

As you work through each drill, pay attention to your body and how it responds to the challenges presented. Remember, progress is not always linear, and it's okay to start with modifications or fewer repetitions until you feel more comfortable. Consistency is key, so aim to integrate these drills into your daily schedule, even if it's just a few minutes at a time.

By investing in your balance and mobility now, you're laying the foundation for a healthier, more vibrant future. So take the time to prioritize your physical well-being and enjoy the benefits of moving with confidence and ease, no matter what age you are. Here's to staying steady on our feet and embracing the journey of aging with strength and resilience.