Improving Balance to Avoid Falls: Exercises and Techniques

Improving Balance to Avoid Falls: Exercises and Techniques

For seniors, it’s not usually a matter of “if” you fall.  It’s very much a matter of “when”. 

As we age, our muscles naturally weaken and our overall posture and standing balance takes a hit.  There are methods for improving your overall balance in order to lower your risk for fall. 

We’re not talking about adding equipment such as walkers and canes to your daily life.  Rather, let’s focus on some exercises that can enhance your balance.

If you consult with a doctor, a physical therapist, or an occupational therapist about your balance, you can get a better idea of where your weak points are that put you at risk for falling. 

For some, it’s about overall muscle weakness due to age which can be reversed. Consider some of the following exercises and techniques and consult with your doctor for any health contraindications (i.e. heart failure, respiratory issues, blood pressure irregularities, etc.):

  • Yoga: Yoga is not just for the young hipsters. Yoga has proven to be very helpful for older adults when it comes to improving postural alignment and balance. Research yoga classes in your area.  The best placed to look are usually local gyms or community centers.  Look for classes that specifically cater to your age group so that you can safely ease into a yoga routine.
  • Core strengthening: If your abdominal and back muscles are weak, then your overall standing balance is placed at risk.  Rows, overhead pulleys, Bowflex machines, dumbbell weight lifting, theraband exercises are not just improving your arm strength.  If your core is not externally supported while performing these activities, then you are also inadvertently strengthening your core.
  • Quad strengthening: The quadricep muscles located in your thighs are the largest muscles in your body.  Therefore, the quads are made to be the foundation for your overall standing balance.  Squats, sitting and standing from a chair without arm use, walking up and down the stairs…these are all ways to strengthen your quad muscles. 
  • Floor recovery: Lastly, floor recovery exercises.  You are more likely not to fall if you have the muscle capacity to get off of the floor on your own.  For elderly patients, this could be scary because you probably haven’t been on the floor voluntarily in years.  Make sure you have someone available to spot you before attempting floor recovery exercises.

Although all of these exercises can help you improve your balance, it is essential to keep what you have. 

If you aren’t walking around at home or in the community, standing for daily tasks, or moving around in general then you will slowly lose your ability to balance. 

Always find a way to keep moving.

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