Stability—let’s call it the “ability” to remain in control of your body and it’s movements within a variety of positions—is a critical component for health. From a baby learning how to walk to a skilled athlete in the middle of a competition to a grandparent walking around the park with their family, people need stable bodies in order to function appropriately, safely, and comfortably.
As it turns out, we seem to take our stability for granted a lot. And despite several systems playing a role in this basic physical skill (including the vestibular, visual, proprioceptive, somatosensory, and musculoskeletal systems), our sense of stability can decrease, especially in our older years.
So, should we resign ourselves to the “normal” consequences of aging and become frail, unsteady, falling-prone seniors? No! There are tons of exercises you can do to explicitly train your stability, which is good for you now and in the future.
3 Stability Exercises to Get You Started
Your core (trunk) muscles, as well as dozens of small stabilizing muscles in the shoulders, arms, hands, hips, legs, and feet are the chief players. The thing is, we don’t often explicitly focus on these muscles during our workouts.
Here are a few exercises that will re-train your body and teach you how to engage your core muscles and small stabilizers (pro tip: best do these at the end of a workout, since you don’t want to fatigue these muscles before doing other major movements).
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1) Single Leg Romanian Deadlift
Also known as a single leg RDL or single-leg stiff-legged deadlift, this move is one of the best out there for increasing stability, body awareness, and core strength. To do:
– Stand tall while holding a weight (kettlebell, dumbbell, slam ball) in both hands.
– Shift your body weight to one leg, then slightly bend that knee.
– Bend at the hip (keeping your back flat and core tight) and kick your free leg back behind you.
– Lower until your upper body is parallel or near-parallel to the ground (weight may or may not be touching the floor).
– Return to the upright position and repeat.
2) BOSU Push Ups
Push-ups are great because they can be modified in a ton of ways. Grab a BOSU ball (that blue half-dome squishy thing) and give this version a go:
– Start in a plank position with your feet or knees on the ground and your hands up (about shoulder width apart) on a BOSU.
– Do a push up by bending your elbows and lowering your chest to the BOSU; be sure to keep your elbows tucked in near your sides.
– Push back to the starting position, and repeat.
3) Supine Marching
This exercise is often seen in the rehabilitation world, but try using it as injury-preventing “pre-hab” instead:
– Start on your back with your knees bent, feet flat, and arms at your sides.
– Press the small of your lower back into the ground and tighten your abs.
– Keeping this core engagement, press through your feet and extend your hips into the air.
– Then, trying to keep your hips as still as possible, slowly lift one foot a few inches off the ground, holding for 1-2 counts then returning it to the ground. Then repeat on the other side.