Core Exercises to Boost Balance and Stability

Balance, which is essential for integrated movement, declines as we age.  Having a strong trunk and hip complex helps us maintain balance for years to come. Incorporate these multiplanar exercises targeting the core musculature and the gluteals. Each move is done in a standing position, and equipment is optional. Those who struggle with balance should perform these exercises against a wall or while holding onto a barre. Participants who work regularly on balance start on their nondominant side.

Static Lunge With Lateral Spinal Flexion

  • Step right foot forward, left foot back, in wide stance, with hips and toes pointing forward.
  • Bend knees and do static lunge while maintaining good posture.
  • While lunging, laterally flex spine R, then return to neutral spine.
  • Complete 5–10 reps, R side.
  • Straighten legs and switch sides.

Progression: Deepen lunge during lateral spinal flexion and/or hold light kettlebell in L hand while flexing R (in R hand while flexing L).

Regression: Stand in narrower stance and/or do not lunge.

Single-Leg Squat With Spinal Rotation

  • Place weight on R foot and slightly lift L foot (you can also keep toe down).
  • Bring hands up and press palms at chest’s center.
  • Sit back into mini squat maintaining neutral spine.
  • Rotate spine R, ensuring shoulders and head follow.
  • Rotate back to center and exit squat.
  • Complete 5–10 reps, R side.
  • Repeat L side.

Progression: Extend both arms forward, parallel to floor.

Regression: Instead of squatting, focus on standing upright on one leg while rotating.

Balance Beam

 

 

  • Place L foot directly in front of R, as if standing on balance beam.
  • Lift heels and come onto balls of feet, then lower. Lift and lower heels 3x–5x, then stay lifted.
  • Raise arms overhead while maintaining neutral spine and relaxed shoulders. Hold for 10–30 seconds, then lower arms and heels back to floor.
  • Progression: Close eyes briefly.
  • Regression: Keep heels on floor.

Tree in the Wind

 

 

 

  • Begin in tree pose. Place weight on L foot. Bend R knee, externally rotate R hip, and put R foot on L calf or inner thigh. Do not place foot on knee.
  • Lift arms overhead, keeping shoulders relaxed.
  • Begin by flexing, extending or rotating wrists (as if the tree were moving in a slight breeze).
  • As balance allows, increase range of motion by moving elbow and/or shoulder joints (as if the tree were moving in a gust of wind).
  • Hold for 30–45 seconds, then lower arms and place R foot down.
  • Switch sides and repeat.

Progression: Add lateral spinal flexion in both directions.

Regression: Keep arms lowered by sides.

For more information on core exercises to boost balance and stability, contact Maurie Cofman, CMES, CES, TBMM-CES, Personal Trainer, Certified Medical Exercise Specialist, Health Coach and Corrective Exercise Specialist in the St. Louis, Brentwood, and Clayton, MO area.