Weekend Challenge: Strengthening Balance Enhancer
This weekend’s exercise promotes coordination and balance to help you prevent dangerous falls. It also targets the muscles in the shoulders, arms, buttocks, and legs, stimulating bone growth in the corresponding areas.
So let’s get started with the Strengthening Balance Enhancer!
Among the older population, most fractures are the result of falls. So strengthening the muscles involved in balance is one of the most important actions you can do to avoid falls that could end up in a fracture.
And, of course, building your bones’ tensile strength and density is equally important. The way to do that is through bone-smart nutrition and by working your muscles to stimulate growth in the corresponding bones, as per Wolff’s Law.
As Savers know, Wolff’s Law states that the action of muscle and gravity on bone, as in weight-bearing exercise, stimulates the formation of new bone, thus strengthening the bone and increasing density.
Some bones are more prone to fracture than others, but any bone can break, broadly speaking. Today’s exercise strengthens the bones in the arms, shoulders, legs, and buttocks. I’d like to take a moment to look at these particular bones and why strengthening them is important.
- The humerus bone is the bone in the upper arm. Your triceps are connected to this bone, and they are worked in today’s exercise. A strong humerus is, of course, more fracture resistant. But a humerus bone that has been strengthened through regular, targeted exercise is also better aligned in the socket, so the shoulders are rotated back in good postural form.
- The shoulder joint is made up of four joints often referred to as the shoulder girdle. The first joint is where the head of the humerus joins the scapula (shoulder blade). The second joint is where the clavicle (collar bone) meets the scapula. The third joint is more toward the front, where the clavicle joins with the sternum (breast bone). And finally, the fourth joint is where the scapula connects with the ribs at the back of the chest.
The shoulder’s movement is really quite remarkable as all these joints and bones work together to perform movements like raising your arm. Some aspects of this complex joint network are more prone to fracture than others – ribs and the clavicle, for example, are more likely to fracture in the event of a fall than the scapula or humerus. Moves like today’s exercise strengthen all the joints and bones of the shoulder, helping to “fracture-proof” the entire area.
- The femur is the longest bone in your body. When you work your quadriceps and hamstrings, the femur gets stimulated, too. The femur makes up both the hip and the knee joint, and strong muscles and a strong femur are vital for stabilizing both. If you’ve ever taken bisphosphonates, then femoral strength is a particular concern, as these drugs can weaken the femur and cause atypical fractures.
- The ankles are, unfortunately, somewhat prone to fracture. The bones that usually fracture in the event of an ankle break are the lower part of the tibia or fibula (more on these bones below). As you’ll see in today’s challenge, the moves in the Strengthening Balance Enhancer work the ankles and help stabilize them.
- The fibula and tibia (lower leg bones) connect to the muscles in the calf and shin. The fibula “floats” behind the tibia, providing stability and balance. The end of the tibia makes the bump on the inside of the ankle, while the end of the fibula makes the bump on the outside of your ankle.
- The pelvis is another example of a fracture-prone area, especially in the elderly. Hip fractures can be a very serious injury, requiring long recovery time. The buttocks muscles, or glutes, must be strong to support the pelvis and keep it aligned, and of course to strengthen the bone itself.
Here’s how to do the Strengthening Balance Enhancer that targets the above bones and more.
You’ll need a small hand weight for this – choose something that is comfortable for you. You can use a can of food or a water bottle if you prefer. In addition, stand near a bed, wall, chair, etc. to catch yourself in case you lose your balance.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Hold the weight in one hand – for the sake of clarity, let’s start with the right hand.
- Raise your right arm up over your head, palm facing out, and bend your right elbow to bring the weight down behind your head.
- At the same time, bend your right knee and bring your left leg behind you in a “curtsy” type motion.
- Bend both knees to go into a full squat. When you come back up, bring the weight up and over your head, slightly out to the side.
- At the same time as you do #5, bring your left leg out to the side in a sideways leg-lift.
- Bring the left leg back down and in again, and repeat steps four through seven. Repeat eight to 10 times, or however many you’re comfortable with.
- Switch sides and do another eight to 10 repetitions.
You may find this a bit challenging at first, but one of the points of this exercise is to enhance balance and coordination, and working opposite sides of the body at the same time helps accomplish that.
As mentioned earlier, it’s a good idea to have a chair or any stable structure handy in case you lose your balance.
If you’d like more exercises that accomplish similar goals, you can try these Weekend Challenges that target similar muscle groups and bones: the Balance Booster and the Dynamic Balance Improver. You might find that starting with one or both of these challenges will make it easier for you to do this weekend’s challenge.
That’s why it’s so important to know your own body and individual fitness level as you develop your own well-rounded bone-building exercise plan. While the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System contains a structured week-by-week exercise sequence, you are free to choose the exercises that work best for you (there are 52 exercises) and that match your fitness level best, especially at first.
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For example, if you would like to work the muscles of your upper back but can’t lie on the floor (as some upper-back exercises require), you could choose the Chair Dips (page 17) or Marching Jacks (page 51) instead. You’re sure to find something that works for your individual situation in Densercise™.
I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s challenge! Please feel free to share your experience by posting a comment below.
Have a great weekend!