Low back pain (LBP) and its relationship to balance has been a recent topic on this site, and an initial discussion regarding specific balance exercises was introduced last month. This month’s article will complete the discussion about what you can do to preserve your current balance skills or better yet, improve them! Remember, wear your foot orthotics and don’t forget to move them between your different shoes. Similarly, if you have leg length imbalance, move your heel lift to other shoes or simply purchase additional lifts and keep the heel lift in several pairs of shoes. Also, test your balance skills now before starting a balance exercise program and re-test every 2-4 weeks to measure improvement.
The initial exercise we discussed was standing with your feet together and holding that position for progressively longer times (eyes open and closed). Once you can hold this position with your eyes closed for = 30 seconds, start increasing the balance challenge by:
- Move your heel of the left foot next to the big toe of the right foot and repeat the exercise with the eyes open and closed. Repeat on the other side! When successful for ~30 sec., do it with eyes closed…..
- Place your left foot in front of the right foot/toes (like standing on a balance beam) and repeat the exercise with the eyes open and closed. Repeat on the other side! When successful for ~30 sec., do it with eyes closed…..
- Repeat #1 and #2 standing on a thin pillow and/or a wobble cushion or rocker board, making sure you are “safe” by standing in the corner of a room or in an entrance to a room where you can grab the door frame when needed. DO NOT RISK falling!
- Rocker board exercise options:
- Rock forwards/backwards (FW/BW) looking straight ahead (don’t look down at your feet). Make sure the board you are using is “safe” (where you can safely step off forwards and backwards). Don’t use a board that is too high off the ground (about 3” is maximum). Repeat the FW/BW rocking slowly for 10 minutes periodically opening and closing your eyes.
- Repeat “A” but stand at a 45° angle to the front/back direction so you are rocking at an angle using the same methods and time frame.
- Repeat “A” but stand at a 90° angle to the front/back direction so you are rocking at an angle using a similar method and time frame.
You can then “make up” exercises standing on the rocker board or cushion like simulating a golf swing, tennis stroke, or other favorite sport, yoga move, etc. Be creative and make it fun!!!