Stretches to Improve Balance and Coordination

A daily stretch can help improve balance and coordination and decrease the risk of muscle strain and injury.

The best time to stretch is in the evening, after muscles have done a full day of work. Make a point to incorporate a stretching routine into your daily activities to help keep your muscles primed and ready so you can enjoy everything on your calendar.

For all stretches, stretch until tension is felt but there is no pain. You have to find that ‘sweet spot’ where you can feel the muscle lengthen but not enough that it hurts and you risk injury.

Give the following stretches a try to begin improving your balance and coordination.

Four Stretches for Balance and Coordination

1. Hamstring Stretch – stretches the hamstring and back of the leg

author pictured doing hamstring stretch in standing position

Equipment: Chair if desired.

Option  1- Standing

Stand in a neutral stance, feet shoulder width apart, back straight, shoulders over hips, and arms to the side. Knees should be soft and not locked straight.

  1. Begin by keeping the right leg in place. Step the left leg forward about a foot; keep leg straight, heel in contact with the ground, and the toe pointed upward.
  2. On next exhale, bend forward at hips and reach for the left toe or left shin with both arms. Keep both back and left knee straight and lead with your chest not your forehead.
  3. Hold the stretch for 10-30 seconds while breathing steadily and repeat the motion 3-5 times.
  4. Repeat the entire stretch on the right leg as well. Alternate sides if desired. 

Option 2 – Seated

author pictured doing hamstring stretch in seated position

Sit on the edge of a chair facing forward, feet spread about shoulder width apart, back straight, and shoulders over hips. A yoga strap can be used.*

  1. Begin by keeping the right leg in place and extend the left leg out as far as possible. Keep the knee straight, heel in contact with the ground, and the toe pointed upward
  2. On next exhale, bend forward at hips and reach for the left toe or left shin with both arms. Keep both back and left knee straight, and lead with your chest not your forehead.
  3. Hold the stretch for 10-30 seconds while breathing steadily and repeat the motion 3-5 times.
  4. Repeat the entire stretch on the right leg as well. Alternate sides if desired.

*Place the strap under the ball of right foot and hold each end of the strap in each hand so that there is no slack in the strap. On the exhale, gently pull back on the strap by bending forward at the hips and bending the elbows back to bring the strap backwards.

Remember to keep back straight as well as the right knee. Hold the stretch for 10-30 seconds and repeat the motion 3-5 times. Repeat the entire stretch on the left leg as well or alternate sides if desired.

2. Quadriceps Stretch – stretches quadriceps muscle (thigh muscle)

author pictured doing quadriceps stretch

Equipment: Chair or wall if desired for balance. A yoga strap can be used.

Standing, start with a neutral stance, feet shoulder width apart, back straight, shoulders over hips, and arms to the side. Knees should be soft and not locked straight.

  1. Start by keeping the left leg in place and bend the right knee up so that the foot comes up to meet the gluteal (butt muscle) and the right knee is pointed towards the floor. Grab the right ankle or foot with the right hand, balancing against a chair, bench, or wall with the left arm. *Place the strap around the arch of the foot and use the strap to pull the leg back if you can’t grab the foot easily.
  2. On the next exhale, draw the right knee back so that it is even with the left knee or even farther back but also maintaining a straight posture. The closer the knee is to the center of the body, the better the stretch will be felt.
  3. Hold the stretch for 10-30 seconds while breathing steadily and repeat motion 3-5 times.
  4. Repeat the entire stretch on the left leg as well. Alternate sides if desired.

3. Tricep Stretch – stretches triceps (back of arm)

author pictured doing Tricep stretch

Equipment: Chair if desired.

Standing, start with a neutral stance, feet shoulder width apart, back straight, shoulders over hips, and arms to the side. Knees should be soft and not locked straight.

  1. On next inhale, straighten the left arm upward toward the sky and bend at the elbow so that the left hand reaches back toward the left shoulder blade.
  2. On the exhale, gently bring the right arm up to the left elbow and gently press the left elbow back. Keep in mind to make sure the left elbow stays pointed up toward the sky and as close to the head without letting the head support the arm. Engage core muscles to support low back and avoid arching your lower back.
  3. Hold the stretch for 10-30 seconds while breathing steadily and repeat motion 3-5 times.
  4. Repeat the entire stretch on the right arm as well. Alternate sides if desired.

4. Upper Body Stretch – stretches the arms, chest, and shoulders

author pictured doing Upper body stretch

Equipment: Wall or solid vertical surface and/or structure, exercise or playground ball.

Standing, face a wall or solid vertical surface with ball horizontally out in front of you, firmly pressed against the surface. Start with a neutral stance; feet shoulder width apart, back straight, shoulders over hips, and arms to the side. Knees should be soft and not locked straight.

  1. On the next exhale, slowly push the ball up the wall until your arms are above your head and spine alignment is maintained. The ball will be in contact with end of wrist or end of the palm.
  2. Hold and press your arms overhead with the ball for about 10-30 seconds breathing steadily.
  3. On the next exhale, slowly roll the ball back down the wall to starting position.
  4. Repeat at least 3-5 times starting again on the exhale.

So, take a few minutes each day to begin to improve your balance and coordination with these stretches.

This blog was originally published on the Life Enriching Communities website with the title Stretching for Balance and Coordination.

The Connection at Twin Towers is a fitness and wellness center. There you will find a team expertly trained to create workout routines and exercises that are specifically designed for those aged 50+. The Aquatic Center includes a 75-foot heated pool, aquatic bikes, and a whirlpool. The Connection is open to the community and memberships are available. For more information call 513-853-2000.

Confident Living is a continuing care at home membership program, focused on helping you remain active and independent as you age in your own home. We serve the greater Cincinnati area. For more information, contact us online or call (513) 719-3522. 

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