3 Balance Exercises to Reduce Your Risk of Falls


When it comes to the risk of falls with subsequent serious complications, such as fractures, most people think that this risk affects mainly older people. The reality, however, is that "between the ages of 40 and 60 years, women begin to experience a decrease in the ability to balance and a decrease in bone density. Both of these changes contribute to the likelihood of both a fall and more severe outcomes after a fall".

A study published in Osteoporosis International reached the following conclusion: "Poor health, decreased balance, and inactivity are predictive of falls and low bone mineral density, low activity level and poor health predictive fractures. Results suggest failing the balance test bipedal stance on foam with eyes closed in the presence of low activity and poor health is a valid quick screening tool for detecting potential fallers for referral for in-depth balance assessment and intervention". https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.go...

As physiotherapists, we have been aware for a long time that doing balance exercises is important for people of all age groups, both men and women. Two factors which are vital when prescribing a balance exercise is that it's challenging enough for that person but that it can still be carried out safely and effectively. We always make sure that we include balance exercises in our Clinical Pilates sessions. That way we can ensure that the person received adequate supervision, particularly if that person is already in a falls risk category.

Below you will find 3 simple balance exercises which you can do at home. Each exercise will have progressions listed as bullet points under the exercise. Pick the one which you find challenging.

As with any new exercise, make sure that you speak to your physiotherapist first to make sure that it's safe for you to do balance exercises at home. You can also contact us regarding this.

1. Stand on one leg for 30 seconds

  • Do this with your eyes closed
  • Stand on one leg on a piece of foam/yoga mat rolled up into 2 or 4 layers, depending on the thickness of the mat
  • Do the above with your eyes closed

2. Stand on one leg; step forwards with the other leg and perform a lunge (make sure that the heel of your back leg comes off the floor as you do the lunge), then return to the original position. Perform the exercise 10 times on each leg

  • Instead of returning to the original position take the front leg back and perform a backward lunge (once again make sure that the heel of the back leg comes off the floor as you do the lunge)

3. Stand with one leg on the floor and the other one on a step/stool (the step/stool needs to be in front of you). Perform a heel raise with the leg that's on the floor, then return to the original position; then take the front foot off the step/stool and bring it back down. Repeat 10 times on each leg

  • Take the foot off the step/stool while up on your toes

Important: If you get any pain in your joints/spine while doing the exercises stop immediately and contact us/your physiotherapist.