We all know this feeling…when life feels unstable. When things are changing more quickly than you can adapt. When the very ground beneath you seems to move. THIS is why you need a palpable sense of stability in your body, in your muscles, to your core.
When life changes (like season changes, schedule changes, stress, etc.) act on your body, it affects your resilience. When your body is unstable this could look like getting sick, or having accidents, or making poor decisions.
The good news is you have easy ways you can make big changes here.
Stability is an aspect of fitness that often gets overlooked. Cardio and strength are usually highlighted, then maybe flexibility. But stability?
Strength doesn’t translate as stability.
Flexibility often is at the cost of stability.
Stability needs to be practiced and developed for its own sake.
How do you do this? Easy…stability and balance are closely related, so anything that challenges your balance will also help you with stability.
Some of my favorite, do anywhere, stability and balance exercise are:
Stand on one foot:
Simple as that. Of course if you need to, have a wall or other solid structure nearby to hold on to. If not, do it waiting in line at the grocery store, or while doing dishes! A little bit of core engagement helps here too.
Start on hands and knees. Draw your belly button towards your spine and lengthen your back. Then lift first one leg straight back, parallel to the floor (not higher!), without allowing the pelvis to tilt or shoulder to wiggle. Then lift the opposite arm straight forward, and parallel to the floor, keeping the spine, hips, and shoulders steady. Take a few steady breaths, lower the limbs, reset your core support (belly button to spine) and repeat on the other side
Walk on unstable surfaces:
Be carefully of course! That’s what I’m doing in this picture. These are rocks by a lake. You could use a curb and take a few steps up on the curb and then down and keep changing. Walking in nature is great because the land changes with rocks and roots etc. Obviously use A LOT of awareness here! I don’t want anyone falling! But this is great stability training! Every step you take requires a different type of activation around every joint. This kind of dynamic change improves your stability.
Have fun with those! What other ways can you think of to practice stability?
Add these to help not only improve the quality of your stability practice, making the moves more effective and safe, but also make them feel better to the other layers of your being, your mental and emotional self. Take note of these aspects to amplify your results…
Simply standing on one leg won’t be as easy or effective without a little bit of conscious core engagement. This isn’t the same as “tucking your tummy in” military style (or putting on tight jeans style!) It isn’t tightening your abs like doing crunches or sit ups. I describe it more as alift. Drawing the muscles below and behind the belly button in and up, almost like suction, and more of an activation that tensing.
This will help you find your center of gravity as well as help to stabilize your entire body.
This seems obvious, but so many people hold their breath when they are trying to balance. This actually makes it harder to balance. Balance and stability need a fluid flow, a gentle and ever more subtle wavering in order to not become rigid, stiff, and eventually…timber!!! Tuning into a rhythmic breath helps give the nervous system the message to be in the calm and easy state where balance and stability are more easily accessible.
Steady focus of the mind:
Again, this seems obvious, but we humans are so good at multitasking and having 100 conversations going on in our heads at once! By practicing stability in the body and stability in the mind at the same time you amplify the effectiveness and the results of both. Win/win!
Tune in to the sensations of your body.
If you need a to-do list you have one: Core Engagement, and Breath.
This is enough to keep you busy I’m sure! Try it…after a few moments it is likely to get distracted and realize you forgot about the core or the breath. If this happens, no worries, simply return your attention to your core lift and your rhythmic breath…voila! Steady mental focus!
There are many many many ways to improve your stability.
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