Boost Balance and Prevent Falls with Yoga

An example of tree pose, a balance improving yoga practiceAs a Houston podiatrist, I have always said that exercise is important—a healthy body can help give you healthy feet! In a previous posting, I’ve shared yoga poses that can help prevent running injuries; today, I want to tell you about some yoga moves, shared in the Washington Post, that can help improve your balance and prevent you from falling.

Tree pose

Because this pose is designed to improve balance, it is a great tool in the fight against falling. Here’s how to do it:

1. Stand with feet hip distance apart. Stand very tall with your body in alignment facing forward.
2. Choose a fixed spot at eye level and focus on it to help stabilize your balance.
3. Pick up your left heel, then bend your left knee and, keeping your toes and the ball of your foot on the ground for stability, slide the sole of your left foot against your right ankle.
4. Bring palms together at your chest or extend arms up to the sky, keeping shoulders relaxed and down.
5. Balance here for a few breaths. If and when you’re ready, lift your left foot off the ground and place the sole against the inside of your right leg anywhere but at the knee.
6. Balance for several breaths, then repeat with the other leg.

Chair pose
The chair pose is designed to improve both balance AND strength; as an added bonus, you can’t fall while doing it, unlike the tree pose, so it may be a great entry into balance-improvement for those who feel unsteady. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Sit toward the front of a chair with both feet on the floor.
    2. Breathe in then exhale as you lean slightly forward from your hips, keeping your back straight. Press feet into the floor and use your legs to stand. Make sure not to round your back.
    3. Inhale as you extend your arms forward to shoulder height, bend your knees and lean slightly forward from your hips — not from your waist. At the same time, stick your bottom out and, without letting your back get round, lower yourself slowly back into the chair.
    4. Repeat five to 10 times, coming to a standing position, then slowly lowering yourself to the chair. Be sure not to hold your breath as you go.

Exercises such as these can help improve balance, but in my office, we have numerous other tools we can use to keep you or your elderly loved ones from falling. If you have concerns about your balance, schedule an appointment with Dr. Andrew Schneider so we can come up with a plan to keep you safe. 

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