Improve Your Hip Health And Your Balance (At The Same Time)
Things I’m obsessed with:
Being able to do what I love when I’m 80+ (Travel! Hike! Garden! Climb!)
Getting outdoors and into nature
Helping people move more and move better
Fortunately, many of these things go really nicely together. Not feet & chocolate so much. But the rest.
As I’ve been teaching private students over the last few years, I’ve realized more and more that my students really struggle with practicing the exercises I give them as homework.
Even people who understand that it is 100% possible to look, move and feel younger and better through smart movement and regular training, still struggle.
So I’ve been spending a LOT of time trying to figure out ways to support you adding more and better movement to your life.
One of my favourite ways to add movement is to rethink how we carry out our regular daily activities. Even when you don’t have extra time to practice moving, you can always change the way you move during the day.
So today, I’m sharing an awesome way to work on your hip strength, your foot strength, and your balance while you drink your morning coffee. Or tea. Or hot chocolate (Ha! Feet and chocolate DO go together).
Better Balance Is A Big Deal
Balance is a big deal – but one we don’t usually think about until we lose it. Bad balance is a major contributor to falling. Falls can break bones and really take away from your quality of life.
Plus poor balance leads to poor gait – have you ever seen an older person shuffling along? That type of walk may get you around the planet, but it doesn’t give you much in the way of better health.
Here’s a super simple way to work on your balance every day – it’s use it or lose it, my friend! The good news? You can do this while you enjoy your morning coffee. Or whatever.
Find Some Balance
Upgrade Your Balance
So adding more balance to your real life is incredibly helpful, but I think we can do more.
See, there’s standing on a block on one leg, and then there’s standing on a block on one leg with good alignment and more muscle activation.
Just standing is helpful – don’t get me wrong. Buuuut, you can do better. Way better.
What many people don’t realize is that balance is a combination of hip strength, foot strength, alignment, and mental co-ordination.You build all of these when you practice standing on one leg on a block. But if you spend extra time learning how to create functional strength in your hips, you’re going to get a lot more benefit.
More bone building, joint-nurturing, balance-improving, hip strength-increasing, future-life improving goodness.
That means you need to build some hip strength and some hip skills. And those skills don’t just come out of nowhere. They take learning and practice.
Building Your Balance Skills By Strengthening Your Hips
The lateral hips are are major muscles that are supposed to kick in every time you take a step when walking.
And they’re what’s supposed to stabilize you when you stand on one leg.
But for me and many of my students, they are a huuuuge body blind spot. This means they don’t work well and can’t do their job. Instead of having easy, stable balance, we are wobbly.
Your lateral hip strength is a major key to better balance.
So why are they so weak? The usual suspects: years and years sitting in chairs and wearing shoes with heels.
Instead of balanced walking with muscular control, we end up doing a mini-fall every time we take a step.
This can damage our knees and hips, decrease our bone density, and eventually lead to falls.
Because the lateral hip muscles are hard to find and access, you may or may not be able to feel them when you stand on a block.
The Pelvic List exercise is a super functional way to meet your lateral hips, get them firing, and start building better balance – PLUS the strength and skill for better walking.
(And by the way, if you have ‘tight’ hips and don’t get much relief from stretching them, this exercise might just be the key – sometimes that tight feeling is really just an underused muscle crying out for help).
Here’s How To Strengthen Your Lateral Hips For Better Balance
Sometimes Building Balance Isn’t Easy
Now because learning better movement isn’t instant, you may need to practice this a bunch of times until you feel like you really get it. And that’s ok, that’s even necessary, so don’t worry if it doesn’t work for you right away.
As long as you feel like you get the idea, you’re on the right track.
And if you do totally get how to do the pelvic list right now, so much the better. It took me a few months, so you’re way ahead of me 🙂
Once you start adding pelvic listing to your ‘standing on one leg on a block’ time, you’ll seriously maximize the benefits (in fact, Katy Bowman highlights this single exercise as one of the keys to aging more dynamically).
Even though better movement is about what you do all day, I think it’s really important to use exercises like the pelvic list to build skills, strength and understanding.
Like, really, really, really important.
If you don’t practice exercises, you’ll have a waaaaay harder time making change. If you even can. You need time to learn, explore and create new neural pathways and muscle fibres, and that doesn’t usually happen when you’re focusing on other things.
So how do you know which exercises to practice? How do you know if you’re doing them right? How do you find time to fit them in?
An Easy Way To Transform Your Balance (and Everything Else)
The pelvic listing tutorial I posted above is taken right out of my Take10 movement coaching program. In Take10, you’ll get to practice listing and accessing the listing muscles in many ways, until you feel crystal clear and confident that you’re in touch with your lateral hips. Then I’ll teach you how to transfer that to your walking. Your hips will love it!
Take10 is the program I’ve built to help busy people learn to move better. It’s ALL THE THINGS in teeny tiny little bite sized chunks. If you’re ready to transform your balance and your health, join me here!
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Petra is a movement educator and personal trainer with a passion for helping people find greater ease, joy and health in their bodies. She believes that better movement can help every body - and she's always happy to chat about it. She's on the road right now, travelling the world and moving in as many ways as possible. When she's not out exploring or working on her movement practice, you can probably find her hanging on some monkey bars.