Single Leg Exercises for Posture and Balance

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Video Description

Why is Single Leg Balance Important?

Maintaining good balance is essential for everyday activities such as walking, climbing stairs, and even standing up from a chair. As we age, our balance tends to decline, making us more susceptible to falls and injuries. By practicing single leg balance, you can strengthen the muscles in your legs and core, improving your overall stability and reducing the risk of falls.

The Health Benefits of Single Leg Balance

  1. Improved Stability: Single leg balance requires you to engage your core muscles and stabilize your body on one leg. By consistently practicing this exercise, you can strengthen the muscles that support your joints, improving your overall stability and reducing the risk of falls.
  2. Increased Flexibility: Single leg balance exercises often involve stretching and reaching movements, which can help improve your flexibility. By regularly practicing these exercises, you can increase your range of motion and prevent stiffness in your joints.
  3. Better Posture: These exercises require you to maintain proper alignment and posture. By practicing, you can strengthen the muscles in your back and improve your overall posture. Good posture not only enhances your physical appearance but also reduces the strain on your spine and joints.
  4. Enhanced Proprioception: Proprioception is your body’s ability to sense its position in space. By practicing single leg balance, you can improve your proprioception, making it easier for you to maintain balance and control your movements. This can be particularly beneficial for older adults who may experience a decline in proprioception.

Join Cam Prendergast’s Fitness Class

In Cam Prendergast’s fitness class, you will have the opportunity to practice various single leg balance exercises. Cam is a fitness instructor with a wealth of experience in helping individuals improve their posture and balance. His class focuses on providing a safe and effective workout that targets the muscles necessary for maintaining balance.

During the class, Cam will guide you through a series of exercises that challenge your balance and stability. You will learn how to properly engage your core, activate the muscles in your legs, and maintain proper alignment. Through consistent practice, you will gradually build strength and improve your balance.

Practicing single leg balance is a simple yet effective way to improve your balance and stability. By incorporating these exercises into your fitness routine, you can strengthen your muscles, enhance your flexibility, improve your posture, and enhance your proprioception.


Video Transcript

Hi, my name is Cameron. Today. We’re going to be working on some seated to standing mechanics and some single leg balance motion. Let’s begin by bringing attention to our feet. So continuing to learn more about how your feet function is the key to making sure that you are stable and balancing when you’re seated or standing or going from seated to standing. so let’s take a moment with the feet and I want you to just close your eyes and take a few big breaths. So with the tall posture if you can draw on your low belly in shoulders back. And see if you can bring your attention to your breasts, but also see if you can notice the texture of the ground underneath your feet. So if you’re on a hardwood floor noticing the sensation of the wood on the soles of your feet if you’re on carpet, see what the carpet feels like. Now with your next exhale just go ahead and blink your eyes open again. So We have worked with seated, uh heel and toe raises previously, but and you can always do those if you want to do a little warm-up. Today. We’re going to do something a little bit different. We’re going to keep the heels and the balls of the feet down. We’re just going to work on lifting the toes. So instead of really building strength here. What we’re doing is we’re illustrating the arch on the bottom of the foot. So it’s very common for the arch on the inside of the foot to kind of collapse. I’m sure you’ve heard the term collapsed arches before or maybe you even have something like that. But you’re going to notice as you lift your toes up your toes kind of naturally spread like your fingers do so, what we’re doing right now is we’re reestablishing that three-point foundation of the heel the big toe ball and the picky ball of your foot and just giving your foot that Arch back so that it can kind of it’s like the Integrity of a bridge. It’s making sure that your feet are functioning properly. So we’re going to do this for a few extra repetitions just because it’s an important thing to remind your feet that they can do. And I want you to really exaggerate to the best of your ability of that motion of spreading your toes out really wide. So now bringing your kind of tactile attention back to that sensation on the bottom of your feet. So you can close your eyes again if you want to or you can just kind of notice. How does the texture of the mat or the ground or whatever you’re standing on feel underneath your feet as you go through this little motion. Let’s do it 10 more times. And a lot of times these little muscles they tend to get fatigued because we just don’t really use them as often as we probably should. So maybe you’re feeling a little bit of that. Good three. Two one on the last one Lift Up and Hold now even as you pull your toes back, I want you to press the bottom side of your foot down into the ground on those three points so big toe little toe ball and heel. So it’s almost like you’re trying to lift yourself up a little bit. Inhale one more time. Exhale relax. Okay, bring your feet in a little let’s just do some little uh, toe circles. So you can try drawing the alphabet here if you want to or you can just do some circles in One Direction circles back in the other direction. so these motions of the foot the ankle and the hip and the knee are uh, they’re all kind of one big package for how we make sure that we’re staying safe and staying strong to you know, not fall over. These are the muscles that keep us standing keep us balancing. Let’s switch legs lifting the other leg up. so Just like every other workout. We want to make sure that our muscles know that they need to do some work for us for the next few minutes. So let’s just do about 10 repetitions in each direction. See if you notice any difference from side to side. If you have ever rolled your ankle or had any kind of foot or ankle injury. You’re probably going to notice it’s not so circular. Maybe it’s more like you’re drawing kind of a triangle or something like that. just notice just things that you are learning about yourself. You’re just reacquainting yourself with an old friend. Okay, both feet down. Now walk your feet out just a little bit wider. Now. We’re just going to do this kind of knock knead position and then let your knees fall open. So both knees in both knees out. So you can also lift your toes up here and notice how when you lift your toes up your ankle stay engaged. So you’re not floppy in your ankles. You’re actually keeping your feet kind of rigid which in this case we want. Now as you rock in and out just notice if the inner hip or the outer hip feels different on either side. Let’s do three more repetitions in three more repetitions out. And then just replace your feet flat on the ground sit up nice and tall. So just to review we’re gonna go from seated to standing, but we’re gonna do it kind of getting ourselves organized first. So I’m slightly forward on my chair. I’ve got a little gap between the backs of my knees and the front edge of the chair not too far. Make sure you’re making sure you’re staying safe toes turned out slightly knees turned out slightly. So if you look down over your knee, it should be right in line with your middle, toe. I sincerely hope you have a middle toe. So stand it up nice and Tall draw your low belly in little chin. Tuck remember the forward lean. So you can inhale Lean Forward exhale pull yourself up to standing. Let’s do that one more time. Go ahead and sit down. Plant to your feet inhale Lean Forward exhale all the way up to stand. Okay, bring your feet just a little narrower that now so you can always use a chair. At your side to give you a little extra balance. There’s nothing wrong with giving yourself a little extra support while you’re learning or relearning certain things. So we are having a narrower stance here. So it may be more appropriate for you to have a chair at your side. So all I want you to do keep your eyes open. I just want you to notice how unstable you may feel with your feet this close together. So a lot of times we default to this position of having very narrow feet and just noticing how much easier it is to kind of topple over like the Leaning Tower of Pisa or something. So bring your feet a little bit wider apart. Now as we work into some of these motions of lifting one leg at a time. I want you to be very aware of how confident you feel with your with your positioning. So bending the knees slightly so your knees are more like Springs again lift all your toes up just briefly and then set them back down again. So we’re reestablishing that Foundation. The arch of the foot is nice and stable as you set your toes back down feel the whole surface of the ground underneath your feet heels big and little toes and then all of the pads of your toes as well. So let’s just start here by just doing a little circular motion. So all I’m doing is kind of leaning forward. To a side and then just making a circle with my whole body. So the whole idea here is just kind of feel how your feet naturally kind of understand that they need to adapt to this motion because you know, we we’ve kind of been conditioned to be on surfaces that are totally flat all the time, but you never know when you’re going to encounter a surface that isn’t totally flat or there are holes or there’s something that might throw you off balance or you’re standing on a boat or something like that. So my hands are on my hips trying to keep a tall posture and I’m just going to make a couple more circles. Let’s actually switch directions. Let’s do about five going the other way just to see how it feels different. Now as we go through these last couple repetitions of these little circles just kind of notice how the rest of your body is reacting. Maybe you default to feeling like you have to look down at your feet again, not a bad thing. But we do want to kind of try and counter that by just bringing ourselves into this state of tall posture gazing at the Horizon instead of down at the ground if you feel like you need to look down, maybe it’s best to have your hand on a chair. Just do one more big circle. Okay, and then go ahead and release. So let’s just take a second here. Shake your legs out a little bit. So very gentle leg swings. We’re just kind of feeling all those little muscles just feeling the connection from your feet all the way up to your hips. And as you feel the connection just kind of reminding yourself that you know, another thing that we’ve been kind of conditioned to think over. The years is that you know, you go to the gym and you do the bicep machine because this is your bicep and that’s what this is what it does. It’s all one big unit. So feel that connection from their feet all the way up into your hip. now let’s work on a little bit of uh balance and also some hip motions kind of working into some stuff that we we’ve touched on previously, but just as a review we can put our hip through several different motions. So if you just kind of put your big toe on the ground or the ball of your big toe and just kind of swivel your knee in and out. This is the little internal axial rotation movement of your hip. So I’m kind of making the same motion with my thumb now, we’re just kind of familiarizing ourselves with this with this motion. So let’s go ahead and replace the foot back down. We’ll do the same thing on the other side. So leaning into the right foot just stamping it out on the other side. So personally I noticed this is just slightly more challenging for me in my hip I can feel this hip joint. Just a little bit stiffer. So it’s important to remember too as we go through some of these hip motions if you’ve had a hip replacement or anything like that. I’ll kind of cue you for certain things that may or may not be appropriate. I always want you to defer to what your doctor told you about keeping your hips safe after hip surgery. And remember if it doesn’t feel safe if it doesn’t feel good. Don’t do it. Okay, and go ahead and rest. So I’m going to go ahead and grab my chair for this one just so we can all kind of stay on the same page. So we’re going to take that motion. We’re just going to make it a little bit bigger. So my chair is to my left. I’m going to keep my left foot planted. So whereas before we were kind of doing this little pivoting motion on the toe this time. I’m actually going to lift the knee up and I’m going to make a big circle out with my knee. So as I draw it out, it’s almost like I’m drawing a circle or an oval in the air with my kneecap. Let’s just do three more repetitions going in this direction. Okay. Then pause let’s go back around the other way. So it’s almost like you’re closing your hip your knee off. I’m going to encourage you to remember it’s not as important to get your knee way out wide because notice I kind of almost knock the chair over right there as I open up this way my whole body kind of turns that way it’s just a more unstable position just work on keeping everything else stationary facing forward making sure you have that stable surface to lean on and you can always use a countertop or something if the chair doesn’t feel so good. Okay, and then go ahead and rest which sides? So I’m going to switch the chair to the other side. You can walk around to the other side whatever you need to do. I’m supported on the right side. I’m lifting the left leg up. So let’s go out first. Throughout all these motions make sure that you’re breathing. Can be easy to forget to breathe when we’re doing things that are a little bit more complex. So taking big breaths. And one more thing make sure that that standing leg is not locked keep the Little Bend in the knee. One more repetition going this way. And then pause, let’s go back around the other way. Again, just noticing any little differences. Let’s go for eight. seven six five four three two and one go ahead and rest plant both feet down again. Take this moment of mindfulness just to kind of feel the mat underneath your feet feel on your knees feeling your hips feeling your tall spine. Let’s take three big breaths. ah And it may help to actually release that as a side. That’s your body. Just kind of naturally letting go of a little bit of tension. Okay. So moving on let’s do a little hip stretch here. And again, this is one of those positions. I want you to be very careful with we’re going to do a hip flexor stretch going really deep into a lunge like this if you’ve had a hip replacement is not always the best idea you can shorten your stance or if your doctor told you not to do something like this just sit this one out. There are other ways to stretch And I’ll show you that in just a second. If you do feel okay coming into a lunge just stepping back maybe a foot and a half to two feet now for this one. I’m going to keep my right hand on the chair. My left leg is extended back and I’m going to take my left fingertips to the back of my head and I’m just going to draw a line with my elbow up and across so if I were facing you I would look like this. So I want you to make sure that you feel very stable in the hand that you’re balancing with. Now according to coordinating the breath with this little movement as you exhale, just see if you can drop that elbow over just a little bit more. Inhale one more time. And then with your exhale bring yourself back to stable both hands and step forward. Let’s go ahead and do a little leg swing. So both hands in the chair. Make sure you don’t kick the chair while you’re doing this. Just swing your leg front and back. So again, we’re just kind of illustrating some of these motions that your hip can do. So just to review we did that internal and external rotation movement. Now we’re kind of doing this front and back swing. So this is flexion. So just like when you pull your knee up that’s flexion. This is extension. So these are two more of the Motions that your hip is capable of one more big breath go ahead and replace both feet behind the mat. Take a couple breaths here. Just kind of re-establishing your foundation. So we’ll come into the same stretch on the other leg. So hands position on the chair to start take a big reach back with your right foot. See how this feels you can always shorten the stance if you need to now standing up pretty tall, but you can you’re probably gonna have a little lean forward and that’s okay right fingertips carefully to the back of your head. Just drawing this line up and across So as you do this, you should feel a pretty pretty clear connection between your armpit your side of your rib cage all the way down into your hip and maybe even farther down into the outside of your knee. As you stretch use that big exhale that relaxation response to stretch just a little bit more. Remember we don’t have to go super deep with our stretches to get the benefit. Inhale one more time. And then with your exhale just bring yourself back up hands on the surface step forward. I’m going to step slightly to the side. Let’s do that leg swing one more time. So Just letting the right leg swing. Careful not to kick anything. to see if you can start to relax the muscles in your face a little bit, especially with these positions that maybe aren’t so challenging. Just letting yourself be calm making this more of a practice of just reminding yourself how to do some do something that you have done previously. And rest both feet on the ground. Again, just take a couple big breaths. You have the Firm Foundation underneath your feet. Just kind of enjoying that sense of stability. All right. So for this next motion, once again, I’m going to be working with my right leg. My left hand is on a chair. So as I lean into my left foot. We’re gonna come into abduction. So this is if you’re drawing a line, you can even Point your toe like I’m pointing reaching out so notice I’m not leaning into the chair to do this. You don’t have to go out super far either these muscles on the outside of your hip tend to not get a lot of work. So if you come out here and you’re like, oh man, this is really hard all of a sudden just stop there. We’re gonna do 10 repetitions of this just reaching out. The standing leg is slightly bent you feeling the foundation underneath your foot. And just feeling those muscles working on the outside of the hip. Okay, let’s go for four. three two and one go ahead and rest. Patent the feet out a little bit. Let’s go straight into the other side. So you’re going to notice now that that left or that right hip has been working when you go to work the left hip you’re still going to feel that right hip working a little bit because both hips are doing something this hip is stabilizing. This hip is actively doing this motion. So let’s do about 10 on this side. And as always we’re noting noting the little differences side to side. So is the side harder is this side easier? Make sure you’re breathing. Go over four. three two and a one go ahead and release both feet down. Maybe shake them out a little bit. All right. So at this point you may be noticing as your hips get worked the more the more fatigued your hips get the harder your bat your balance may seem a lot of times we tend to default to thinking that your balance comes from your ankles and your feet which it does to some degree but this hip strength is what really keeps you stable. So all these muscles Kind of it’s part of your core. So your core is not just your abdominal muscles. It’s all the muscles and the back sides of your hips. It’s the muscles on the sides of your hips muscles inside your hips. So we’re going to do one more little motion here. Just kind of wrap up this sequence. So both hands in the back of the chair standing up nice and tall. So knees will remain side by side but I am going to lift my right foot off the ground. All we’re going to do is keep your Gaze on the horizon. Just bend your knee like you’re trying to touch your heel to your hip. Good so notice I’m not coming into the Donald Duck Butt position. I’m trying to keep my hips relatively straight and I’m pulling so you’re going to feel a lot of activation on the back side of your sides your hamstrings. Notice, my foot is also engaged. So I’m still flexing the toes of my right foot towards my shin. three two And one okay set it down. Let’s do the other side make sure you’re stable. And then when you’re ready flex your foot flex your knee pull your heel in. Good relax your shoulders. This tends to be a movement that can be a lot harder than it seems. So again if you’re feeling crampy at all just Set out the last couple repetitions. Otherwise just can’t kind of keep going we’re looking for that kind of hurts. So good kind of sensation. If any of these movements if you feel pain like doesn’t hurt so good kind of pain then that means you need to take a break. One more pull it in. And then go ahead and set it down. Shake them out a little bit. So bring your hands to your hips for this last little piece. Just tying everything together walk your feet out a little bit wider. So again, we’re getting that nice solid foundation. We’re gonna do a slightly bigger hip swivel. So it’s almost like a slow motion. Hula hooping kind of motion. So bring your gaze anywhere that feels appropriate you can also put one hand on a chair. I’m putting my hands on my hips because I can kind of feel those little hip muscles working which I think is really interesting. So as you go through this repetition, let’s do three more in this direction. Notice all those little muscles that we used in our hips over the last 15 minutes or so or kind of talking to a little bit. Let’s switch directions. Let’s do about 10. Just like all the all the other ones we’ve done just kind of checking in. How does it feel going this way versus the other way? And just like you write with your right hand or your left hand. That’s your dominant hand. We have a kind of a dominant side with everything. So which side feels more natural to you when it comes to standing on one leg. Whatever it is. Kind of noticing because that tends to be the the limb that tends to be a little bit stronger a little bit more coordinated. I’m not as coordinated going this way one more time. Okay, and then rest, let’s come back to that Superman posture or Superwoman stand up nice and Tall shoulders back little chin tuck. Now as you just take a couple big breaths here. It’s a little bit a little moment of gratitude for your healthy body. Maybe even exaggerating it a little bit more engage those gluteal muscles lift your chest up. All right, and then relax just let your arms swing a little bit. Nice and loose it’s almost like you’re trying to shake water off your fingertips. Okay, let’s make our way back down to a seated position. So I will definitely encourage you to practice your squatting motion. Of course making sure you know where the chair is in space. You don’t want to sit down on a chair that isn’t there. So make sure you know where your foot position is in relation to your chair. I’m going to reach forward. So again counter balancing my weight Drive hips back and then just set down right on the edge of the chair. Okay, so to finish up, let’s do a few little stretches here first one. I’m going to give you several variations for this. So if you do have a lot of hip restriction or you know, those all those hip exercises we just did were challenging for you. You can just cross your ankles super simple. Just crossing your ankles and we’re going to do a twist. So in this case right ankle over the cross of our cross over left ankle and we’re going to twist to the right. Now if you have a little bit more room in your hips and your knees you can try crossing your knee over your knee. Sit up nice and tall. And then Twist from there. So right leg on top of left leg turning and looking to the right. inhale tall spine exhale twist a little bit. And then carefully releasing back to the center. Let’s just switch legs. So left ankle across left knee across you choose. Nice tall spine. He’s turning look to the left. Relax, your shoulders, relax your tongue and your mouth all these little areas that become tense and we don’t even really think about it. Relax the muscles in your brow. All right, then releasing back to the center. So uncross your legs one more time options for this one ankle crossed knee over knee or you can come into this figure four position. If you’re doing this, I always encourage you to flex your foot again, just like when we were working on it earlier toes back towards your shin. And then just lean forward a little bit. You don’t have to come super low. You’re going to feel this right away. You you can put pressure on this leg, but just make sure you don’t feel any pain in your knee. I would actually encourage you to reach down around through the Gap in your legs and just grab the back of the opposite thigh and lean towards that one instead of the leg that’s on top. Let’s take three big breaths here. And then inhale long spine. Exhale pull yourself back up to a seat. Last one, let’s do that same cross. So ankle knee over knee or ankle over knee flex your foot. If you’re here inhale sit up nice and Tall start to lean no pressure on this leg unless it feels good. I’m encouraging you to grab the back of the thigh on the right leg and just pull yourself forward carefully. one more big breath And releasing what you’re grabbing find some length in your spine as you pull yourself up to a seat. Just assisting that leg back off of the top. Just like the very beginning carefully placing your feet down feel the texture of the mat underneath your or the texture of the ground underneath your feet. Just close your eyes and relax everything one last time. See if you notice the difference between now and when you started your strength practice today. All right. So I’m going to leave you here. Thank you for uh working through this strength practice with me and I’ll see you again soon.