Balance is all about fortitude. It’s not pure strength, nor is it pure stillness. It’s about having the tools to react and maintain your position when something internal or external comes along to blow you off course.
This attitude is relevant for both the literal and figurative idea of finding balance in life. But today, we’re focusing on physical balance, which is really “a host of different variables that are all orchestrated in the brain,” Lara Heimann, PT, previously told Well+Good. That means balance is your brain’s ability to synthesize information such as environmental and sensory cues that help you locate your body in space (a concept called proprioception), and then translate that to your muscles so that you can keep yourself upright.
One way to improve balance is to work on the muscle groups that play a big role in keeping you grounded, which include your feet and ankles, calves, and glutes. Pilates instructor Brian Spencer of East River Pilates is here to lead you through a 12-minute balance-building routine that focuses on these often overlooked areas. That involves concentrating on where you’re placing your weight in your foot so you can call upon the small muscles in your feet and ankles while also recruiting the larger muscles that support them.
“If you’re ever like, How can I really help my balance?, a lot of times it’s by strengthening all the muscle groups that help you support the weight in the back of the foot like squats, and in the front of the foot, like your calves,” Spencer says.
The bread and butter moves he builds upon in this series are squats, calf raises, and single leg standing poses. That might sound simple, but Spencer puts them together in a way that’s specifically meant to challenge both your strength and your balance.
“Balance is all about correction,” Spencer says. “It’s not really about never wobbling. It’s always about being like, How do I self-correct when I’ve gone a little off course?” Wise words to keep in mind for exercise, and for life. We hope giving yourself time to do this routine helps you find a little more balance in both.