Strength-training exercises for balance and core

The first exercise described here develops your overall balance. The other exercises on this page develop your core muscles, which are the muscles of your torso and pelvis.

Remember to check with your health care team before beginning any exercise program. Although we have provided strength-training exercises to suit most people, some of them may not be right for you.


Exercise instructions and videos on this page:


One-leg balance

Muscle group: Overall balance
 
  1. Stand on a soft but firm surface, such as an exercise mat or carpet.
  2. Slowly bend one knee to lift the foot off the ground so that you are balancing on the other leg. Keep your eyes on a fixed point in front of you and breathe slowly and deeply. Hold the pose for several seconds if you can.
  3. Lower your leg and put your foot back on the ground. Repeat the exercise with the other leg.

⇓ You may want to start near a chair or wall so you can steady yourself.

⇑ For a challenge, put your hands on your head as you balance and/or close your eyes.


Clamshell

Muscle group: Core
 
  1. Lie on your back with knees bent and your feet flat on the floor about hip width apart. Place your hands on your lower abdomen and lift your pelvic floor muscles. Keep breathing normally.
  2. Slowly lower one knee out to the side, without moving the hips. Hold for 15–30 seconds.
  3. Return to starting position. Repeat with the other knee.

Pelvic tilt

Muscle group: Core
 
  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor about hip width apart.
  2. Flatten your back by tightening the muscles in your abdomen and buttocks. This will tilt your pelvis up slightly. Hold for several seconds.
  3. Relax the muscles and rest for a few seconds, then repeat the pelvic tilt.

Bird-dog

Muscle group: Core
 
  1. Start on all fours, with legs hip width apart, knees directly under hips, hands directly under shoulders, and back in a straight line. Do not lock the shoulders.
  2. Keeping your back flat and steady, extend one leg while supporting the torso with both hands on the floor. Once balanced, slowly extend the opposite arm. Pause for 5–10 seconds.
  3. Maintain normal breathing. Slowly return to all fours. Change sides and repeat the bird-dog pose.

⇓ The bird-dog can also be performed lying over a fitball, which can be a useful alternative for people with bad knees who find it difficult to kneel.

⇑ Increase the difficulty by slowly extending the leg and the opposite arm at the same time.


This information was last reviewed in April 2016
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