Foot Stances for Balance Exercises

Hi, I’m Margaret at MelioGuide and today I’m
going to talk specifically about all the different variations you can do within your balance
poses just by tweaking your foot positions. So we’re going to start from the very basic
foundational balance pose of two feet, hip-width apart. Feet are parallel to one another, meaning
that if you’re following a straight line, your toes, your heels are equidistance apart. And so that’s a really good foundational pose. It’s a good foundational pose for any of your
exercises, whether it’s a bicep curl or an overhead press or getting up and down from
a chair. So it’s function. Now as we want to progress balance, we want
to challenge our base of support. So we start with keeping our feet parallel
to one another and gradually bringing them closer together so I could bring toes and
heels and so I could the next day practice with everything just a centimeter closer and
then I continue, toes and heels. When making the micro-changes I demonstrate
both feet moving. However, you might decide that you feel a
lot more stable just starting with one foot at a time. So you might just shift the right foot, toe
heel, try your balance pose again. And if you feel you need another challenge,
then shift the left foot coming in a bit closer. So I do encourage you to always have it straight,
not pigeon toed or out, plate footed. But gradually, again day by day or week by
week, depending on how frequently you work on your balance, depending on other factors
in your lower body strength and flexibility until you can bring your feet, bring your
feet as absolutely close together as your anatomy allows. Cap size, hip shape, toes, all of that. So working your balance with a very narrow
base, still with feet parallel to one another. From this parallel position, then you want
to start working towards a staggered stance. So I’m going to bring my feet back to a comfortable
distance apart. A staggered stance simply means I’m taking
a step. So now my feet are in a staggered position. From this staggered position, this is my gate. This is where I take my next step. So I want to make sure that I’m comfortable
and stable here. This is all the drills that we do with forward
and back from here. Now as this gets comfortable, once again you
want to start narrowing your base of support. So I might bring the front heel then toe in,
heel then toe in and until gradually they’re getting closer and closer. And I might not feel comfortable yet being
on a line. So I might then start to slide that front
foot back ever so slightly and back some more. And I find with most of my clients that I
can get them to the position where their heel is just about in line on the same plane as
their big toe before they want to come or feel comfortable coming in onto the line where
heel and toe are in a straight line. The straight line position with heel touching,
just grazing, the toe of the back foot is referred to as the tandem position. And so that tandem position is quite challenging
and often used in balanced testing. And so this is a really good objective to
reach before you start progressing to standing on one foot. Now this is all on a fairly stable surface. We haven’t talked about changing the surfaces
yet, so when you are still just working with a basic surface, whether it’s your kitchen
floor, your bathroom tiles, hardwood, those are your firm surfaces. When you get to a softer surface that changes
everything a little bit more. Now, single leg before going just on one foot,
you want to start with toe touch. If you find that toe touch is uncomfortable
in terms of your big toe, a lot of people have arthritis of the big toe. They might find it more comfortable having
the foot on a half foam. And what that allows you to do, I’m just going
to place this behind me, is it allows your big toe to be off the edge. So you’re still toe touch or foot touch, but
without a lot of bending at the big toe. So I, people say, “Oh, I can’t do that one,”
because I always find a way to make them do their progression. All the while you’re always looking to keep
the pelvis nice and level. Now from here you start to progress to single
leg, single leg in different positions. And at this point, when you’ve progressed
through the single leg routine, that’s a nice time to start changing the surface that you’re
standing on and going all the way back through everything where, so here as an example, I
have a yoga mat. You might only start with two folds of the
yoga mat. I have about eight folds of this yoga mat. You might go through the entire sequence standing
on the mat just as we started with parallel stance. When you go into the staggered stance, you
might start with just one foot, either the front foot or the back foot on an unstable
surface because that just amazingly kind of changes and makes the exercise all exciting
again. And so you can go through the whole sequence
of what we worked on, where you were feeling really confident. And now with either your front foot or your
back foot on an unstable surface, it just brings back life into your whole routine. And then by all means you’re going to have
both feet on that soft surface. And so if I take it into this position here
where both are on one layer, two layers, four layers, eight layers of yoga mat, and then
again you’re progressing all the way through. Now these are really quite inexpensive. Most people have a yoga mat at home or you
can get one on sale somewhere. And then half foams are also a really nice
tool to have and allow you to progress through your balance poses. So you’ll see these used in the athletic level
of the exercise for better bones where at this point, and sometimes at home, actually
I have a half foam, but I’ve cut in two so that I can still have a staggered stance position
or parallel stance and use them in that way. Otherwise, if you just have your full foam,
then you’re limited to your tandem stance position, which might be more advanced than
you’re ready for. Now you can use your foam with the round side
up, which is actually, I find it a little bit more challenging than having it the opposite
way. And all depending on your foam and you can
do it where you’re doing your… because your foot is now flatter, your tandem stance. And this is a fairly new foam so it’s hasn’t
been flattened out at all by me or any of my clients. And so it’s a really nice challenge with that
rocking from side to side or you can actually stand all the way the opposite way with it
and getting that forward and back challenge, which you would get in a more expensive rocker
board. But it allows you to work through it on something
that’s inexpensive and that you can use for a number of other things like really nice
calf stretches, those kind of things that we cover in some of the ankle mobilization
series. So I think that kind of covers it. I’ve probably missed some things, but you
can take the concept and go with it. And I hope you have a lot of fun and feel
the strength and stability that improving your balance provides. Thanks for tuning in.

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