Health blog

Two exercises that can improve your balance and gait

June 5th, 2020
Exercises to Improve Gait and Balance

The way you move your legs, or gait, is vital to many of your normal daily activities. Having the ability to balance yourself while you move is also critical. Mastering these skills allows you to play sports that you love. They allow you to walk your dog without a fear of falling. 

As we age, our balance and gait are often degraded. This degradation often leads to a higher risk of falls, and research shows that about 25% of people over 65 fall at least once every year. One option that can help improve your balance and gait and reduce your fall risk is therapeutic exercises. 

Is there evidence that improving your balance and gait can be done with therapeutic exercise?

Physical therapists often recommend therapeutic exercise as part of therapy plans to improve balance and gait. These recommendations are backed by research that shows such exercises are helpful. One study found that patients who used a therapy plan that included balance exercises reduced falls that caused broken bones by 61%. 

Your therapist can help you find balance and gait exercises that can help you. There are two exercises in particular that they may recommend to you. 

1.  Single-leg standing exercise

This exercise is designed to improve balance and gait by increasing leg strength. You may want to start out by doing this exercise while holding on to the back of a chair, and then, you can try it without the chair as your balance improves. 

Steps for doing the single-leg standing exercise

    • Stand with your back straight and your head centered over your shoulders.
    • Bend your left knee to lift your foot off the floor. 
    • Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds. 
    • Slowly lower your foot back to the floor. 
    • Rest for a few seconds and repeat these steps until you’ve done them three times with your left leg. Then switch legs and repeat them three times with your right leg. 

2.  Tightrope walk exercise

Another exercise that can help improve your balance and gait is the tightrope walk exercise. Your therapist may recommend doing this exercise near a kitchen counter. This will allow you to catch yourself if you have difficulty balancing during your first attempts. 

Steps for doing the tightrope walk exercise

  • Start by standing with both feet together. You should also keep your back straight and head upright during the entire exercise. 
  • Slowly move your right foot forward and place it directly in front of your left foot. This should leave your right heel touching the toes of your left foot. 
  • Move your left foot forward in the same way. 
  • Continue to alternate feet until you’ve taken between 10 and 20 steps. 
  • Take a brief break if necessary. 
  • Repeat the exercise three to five times. 

Find therapy that can help improve your gait and balance at Rehab Access

Want to find a therapy team who can help you develop an effective plan to improve your gait and balance? You’ll find just such a team at Rehab Access Physical Therapy. Our team offers complimentary screenings that can pinpoint the source of your gait and balance issues. We also excel at building individualized plans designed to improve gait and balance, and our team has virtual care and at-home therapy options available for patients who are staying at home.

Worried that you can’t start therapy without a doctor’s referral? All the services that Rehab Access offers can be used without a referral from your doctor. 

Take the next step to start getting our help with your gait and balance issues. Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.