Balance is composed of three important senses in our body; our vision, inner ears, and the messages that we receive from our muscles and our joints. When someone has arthritis in their hips or knees and is experiencing pain and stiffness, their sense of balance and body awareness is impaired because they're receiving additional pain signals from those arthritic joints.
People often say that they’re afraid their knees will give out if they walk a lot, so they don’t do too much. Well guess what? This actually speeds up the process of arthritis and further impede your balance.
So today, let’s talk about the top five balance exercises for arthritis that I love working on in my balance programs.
For each exercise, there are three levels: beginners, intermediate and advanced. If the beginner’s version is too easy for you, then do the intermediate one or the advanced one.
1. Heel Raise.
To do this, put your hands on the chair, then lift yourself up on your toes. Engage your glutes and your core. Now, for those who are trying the intermediate version, you can place one hand by your side. And if you want to make this advanced, you can have both hands by your side to turn around. Do this for about 30 seconds.
2. Side Kick.
For beginners, bend your knees—don't lock it out—then the other foot will go out and the foot will be flat on the floor and then back. If you want to make this more challenging, don’t place your foot down on the floor at all.
Notice in the video that I’m still holding on to the chair for support, right? Engage your glutes and your core. Always have a chair in front of you in case you need it for safety.
3. Mini Squat.
Bend down to 30 degrees from your knees. Your hips are out and make sure you are not arching your back. Move your body a little bit forward and then just hold on to the chair. You can have one hand by your side.
For the intermediate level, put both hands by your side. If you want to make this advanced, you can punch. Just imagine you're punching somebody in the face. Don’t lean, just look forward. Do this for 30 seconds too.
4. Tandem Standing.
Place your heel right in front of the doors of your other foot. For the beginner’s level, just stay put. If you want to make it a little bit more challenging, place one hand on the chair and then you take the other hand up and down.
For the advanced levels, use both hands and you will feel the shakiness in your feet and that's normal, don’t worry. Do that for 30 seconds and then change to the other foot. Make sure you engage your glutes.
You'll notice that one side is stronger than the other and you'll feel like you shake more on one side than the other. Do it for 60 seconds all in all.
5. Single Leg Standing.
This is one of my favorite exercise. Just stand on one leg, engage your glutes and your core. For beginner’s version, hold the chair with both hands.
For the intermediate one, put one by your side or both hands by your side. And the advanced version, put both of your hands in front. If you can’t do it yet, it’s okay. It doesn’t matter. Just start at where you can and slowly progress. Do this three times and maintain it for about 30 seconds.
I recommend completing all the five balance exercises for arthritis for 30 seconds each on each side and repeating the circuit twice. Incorporate this into your routine for at least two or three times a week.
I recommend starting at the beginner’s level. But if that's too easy, you can go up to the intermediate or advanced level. Make sure you have clearance from your doctor or your physical therapist before you attempt these exercises.