How Can I Improve My Balance?

Article featured on Summit Ortho written by Kyle Hall, DPT

Although it is often overlooked, balance is an important part of your overall physical fitness. Poor balance increases your chance of falls or other causes of injury and can reduce your overall mobility.

“Your body relies on three things for balance: your eyes, your inner ear, and receptors in your joints — that’s the part that can decline with age or injury,” Hall said. These joint receptors contribute to balance by sending signals back to the brain to tell you that you are falling or that there is more pressure to one side or another.

How can I improve my balance?

Yoga and Pilates are excellent for improving your steadiness, and core-strengthening exercises like planks and straight leg raises can help as well. Heel raises can increase ankle strength, which can help support you if you wobble. But if you have problems with your balance, it may be smart to add specific balance-building exercises into your daily routine three to five times a week.

A typical progression of balance exercises may include:

  • Weight shifting from side to side, forward and backward, and along a diagonal. You can stand in a corner or in a doorframe so that you can use the wall to balance yourself, if needed.
  • Tandem stance — standing with your feet heel to toe, as if you’re on a balance beam. This gives you a narrow base of support, challenging your balance. To add difficulty, you can close your eyes or stand on something soft and uneven, like a pillow.
  • Standing on one foot for 30 seconds — for more challenge, close your eyes.
  • Doing the “Superman,” reaching your arms forward, with one leg out behind you.
  • Walking heel to toe (called a “tandem walk”) or doing a few grapevine steps will help with balance as you move.

If you’re an athlete who wants to attain higher levels of performance, try using a minitrampoline, plyometrics, and box jumps. You can also catch a ball thrown by someone else, with planned and unplanned changes in direction.

Should I be working on balance?

There are several easy ways to test your balance:

“Standing with your feet together and your eyes closed, you should be able to stand for about 30 seconds. If not, balance is something to work on,” Hall said.

Other balance benchmarks include:

  • Can you stand in tandem stance (heel to toe) for 30 seconds?
  • Can you reach forward about 10 inches without holding on to anything?
  • For people ages 65 and under:
    • Can you stand on one leg with eyes open for 30 seconds?
    • Can you stand on one leg with your eyes closed for 20 seconds?

There are many good balance tests available for free online. Hall suggests the Berg Balance Test, which will tell you if you’re at high risk of falling or should use a cane or walker for safety.


The Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center of Oregon is an award-winning, board-certified orthopedic group located in downtown Portland Oregon. We utilize both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors and congenital disorders.

Our mission is to return our patients back to pain-free mobility and full strength as quickly and painlessly as possible using both surgical and non-surgical orthopedic procedures.

Our expert physicians provide leading-edge, comprehensive care in the diagnosis and treatment of orthopedic conditions, including total joint replacement and sports medicine. We apply the latest state-of-the-art techniques in order to return our patients to their active lifestyle.

If you’re looking for compassionate, expert orthopedic surgeons in Portland Oregon, contact OSM today.

Phone:
503-224-8399

Address
1515 NW 18th Ave, 3rd Floor
Portland, OR 97209

Hours
Monday–Friday

Are You Ready for a Marathon?

Article featured on Summit Orthopedics

If you are a runner, running a marathon may be on your bucket list. We share some advice for you to consider before you commit to your first marathon.

In the summertime race events are plentiful. Runners can include the whole family in a day of fitness fun by signing up for a family run, race to raise money for worthy causes, or set their sites on the race that tests their endurance as a runner: the marathon. It is important for aspiring marathoners to understand that it is one thing to run a 5-mile course, and quite another to complete a 26.2 mile race.

The decision to run a marathon should be given serious consideration. To run a marathon safely means making a significant time commitment to months of planning and training.

We suggest that runners consider three factors before they commit to their first marathon.

Schedule

Training for a marathon means dedicated time to training; but that’s not where your time commitment ends. You’ll also need time for proper recovery between training sessions, and should also factor in a higher-than-normal level of fatigue. If you are at a point where demands on your time are high, or you may not have the support you need, you might want to consider a half marathon instead. This shorter race still requires training, and will give you more first hand experience about whether you are ready for the demands of a longer race.

Pre-Existing Injuries

If you have any knee, hip, or back issues, marathon training is going to increase the stress on problem areas. This is a factor you should discuss with a physical therapist before you commit to training for a big race.

Nutrition

Marathon training increases your body’s nutrition needs. If you aren’t a healthy eater, are you ready to make significant changes in your diet to protect your body’s performance?

Running is a wonderful way to stay fit and healthy, and every runner talks about the emotional satisfaction that goes hand-in-hand with their sport. We applaud ambitious goals like checking that first marathon off the bucket list, and we want you to be ready and able to commit the time and discipline you’ll need to safely train to achieve your goal.


The Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center of Oregon is an award-winning, board-certified orthopedic group located in downtown Portland Oregon. We utilize both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors and congenital disorders.

Our mission is to return our patients back to pain-free mobility and full strength as quickly and painlessly as possible using both surgical and non-surgical orthopedic procedures.

Our expert physicians provide leading-edge, comprehensive care in the diagnosis and treatment of orthopedic conditions, including total joint replacement and sports medicine. We apply the latest state-of-the-art techniques in order to return our patients to their active lifestyle.

If you’re looking for compassionate, expert orthopedic surgeons in Portland Oregon, contact OSM today.

Phone:
503-224-8399

Address
1515 NW 18th Ave, 3rd Floor
Portland, OR 97209

Hours
Monday–Friday
8:00am – 4:30pm

Exercises and Stretches for Hip Pain

From Versus Arthritis

Here are some exercises designed to stretch, strengthen and stabilize the structures that support your hip.

It’s important to keep active – you should try to do the exercises that are suitable for you every day. Repeat each exercise between 5–10 times and try to do the whole set of exercises 2-3 times a day.

Start by exercising gradually and build up over time. Remember to carry on even when your hip is better to prevent your symptoms returning.

If you have any questions about exercising, ask your doctor.

It’s also a good idea to try to increase your general fitness by going for a regular walk or swim, this will strengthen your whole body – which helps support your hip. It can also improve your general health, fitness and outlook.

Simple stretching, strengthening and stabilising exercises

The following exercises are designed to stretch, strengthen and stabilise the structures that support your hip. These exercises for hip pain (PDF, 983 KB) are also available to download and keep.

It’s important not to overstretch yourself if you’re in pain. It’s normal to feel some aching in the muscles after exercising, but you should stop and seek advice if you have joint pain that lasts more than a few days.

If you’ve had a hip replacement you will probably be advised to take it easy for the first six weeks and not to push yourself too much. Ask your physiotherapist what exercises they recommend you should start with and how to do them.

You may feel slightly uncomfortable during or after exercise, but this should settle within 24 hours. It shouldn’t be painful. If you feel any sudden pain stop exercising and seek medical advice.

An illustration of someone marching on the spot.

Hip flexion (strengthening)

Hold onto a work surface and march on the spot to bring your knees up towards your chest alternately. Don’t bring your thigh above 90 degrees.

An illustration of someone standing whilst holding onto a table, moving their leg backwards and keeping it straight.

Hip extension (strengthening)

Move your leg backwards, keeping your knee straight. Clench your buttock tightly and hold for five seconds. Don’t lean forwards. Hold onto a chair or work surface for support.

An illustration of someone standing and holding onto a chair, lifting their leg sideways.

Hip abduction (strengthening)

Lift your leg sideways, being careful not to rotate the leg outwards. Hold for five seconds and bring it back slowly, keeping your body straight throughout. Hold onto a chair or work surface for support.

An illustration of someone standing whilst holding onto a table, bending their knee towards their bottom.

Heel to buttock exercise (strengthening)

Bend your knee to pull your heel up towards your bottom. Keep your knees in line and your kneecap pointing towards the floor.

An illustration of someone squatting down, bringing their knees towards their toes.

Mini squat (strengthening)

Squat down until your knees are above your toes. Hold for a count of five if possible. Hold on to a work surface for support if you need to.

An illustration of someone laying on their back with one bent leg and one straight leg with a towel under it's knee. They're raising their foot off the floor.

Short arc quadriceps exercise (strengthening)

Roll up a towel and place it under your knee. Keep the back of your thigh on the towel and straighten your knee to raise your foot off the floor. Hold for five seconds and then lower slowly.

An illustration of someone laying down with their legs straight, pulling their toes and ankles towards them whilst pushing their knees to the floor.

Quadriceps exercise (strengthening)

Pull your toes and ankles towards you, while keeping your leg straight and pushing your knee firmly against the floor. You should feel the tightness in the front of your leg. Hold for five seconds and relax. This exercise can be done from a sitting position as well if you find this more comfortable.

An illustration of someone laying on their back with their knees bent and hands under the small of their back. They're pulling their belly towards the floor.

Stomach exercise (strengthening/ stabilising)

Lie on your back with your knees bent. Put your hands under the small of your back and pull your belly button down towards the floor. Hold for 20.

An illustration of someone laying on their back with their feet to standing, lifting their pelvis and lower back off the floor.

Bridging

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your pelvis and lower back off the floor. Hold the position for five seconds and then lower down slowly.

An illustration of someone laying on their back and pulling their knee toward their chest.

Knee lift (stretch)

Lie on your back. Pull each knee to your chest in turn, keeping the other leg straight. Take the movement up to the point you feel a stretch, hold for around 10 seconds and relax. Repeat 5-10 times. If this is difficult, try sliding your heel along the floor towards your bottom to begin with, and when this feels comfortable try lifting your knee.

An illustration of someone sitting with their knees bent and feet together, pressing their knees downwards.

External hip rotation (stretch)

Site you your knees bent and feet together. Press your knees down towards the floor using your hands as needed. Alternatively, lie on your back and part your knees, keeping your feet together. Take the movement up to the point you feel a stretch, hold for around 10 seconds and relax. Repeat 5-10 times.

 


The Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center of Oregon is an award-winning, board-certified orthopedic group located in downtown Portland Oregon. We utilize both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors and congenital disorders.

Our mission is to return our patients back to pain-free mobility and full strength as quickly and painlessly as possible using both surgical and non-surgical orthopedic procedures.

Our expert physicians provide leading-edge, comprehensive care in the diagnosis and treatment of orthopedic conditions, including total joint replacement and sports medicine. We apply the latest state-of-the-art techniques in order to return our patients to their active lifestyle.

If you’re looking for compassionate, expert orthopedic surgeons in Portland Oregon, contact OSM today.

Phone:
503-224-8399

Address
1515 NW 18th Ave, 3rd Floor
Portland, OR 97209

Hours
Monday–Friday
8:00am – 4:30pm

Daily Stretching Routine for Seniors

From AAPTIV

Tight muscles, stiff joints, and aches and pains—aging can take a toll on your body, but the good news is that stretching can help you feel better.

Research indicates that stretching improves flexibility, promotes balance, and has the power to reduce pain or stress. Additionally, stretches that focus on posture and mobility can support daily activities and limit your risk of falling or injury. Read more