How to Improve Your Balance Without Working on Your Balance

I hear this a lot.

”My balance is just not very good. Doesn’t matter what I do either. I just don’t get much better.”

What does “good balance” mean exactly? And I don’t know who started the whole good / bad labeling in the medical world. Good leg, bad leg. Good posture, poor posture. Good patient, bad patient.

Good grief.

Words matter…but I’m headed down a rabbit hole…so back on track.

Usually, “poor” or “bad” balance means you can’t stand on one leg more than a few seconds. There’s some data that suggests “normal” balance (and wouldn’t “ideal” or “typical” be a better choice than “normal”? – see what I mean about words?) means standing on one leg for at least 30 seconds without swaying like a young willow tree in the wind.

The balance you need to be concerned about though is the kind embedded in unexpected movement. Like when you trip over the edge of a rug on the floor or you’re standing on a ladder leaning off to one side to swap out a light bulb and your dog runs by and bumps the ladder.

I’ve always wondered if standing on one leg and doing nothing ever helped anyone in the “real” world. If you want to work on your balance though and get something else done at the same time, stand on one leg while brushing your teeth. The subtle movements of your arm during the brushing action create small challenges to your balance.

It’s way harder than it sounds.

And if you want to up the ante, stand on one leg and brush your teeth with your non-dominant arm.

With all that in mind, here’s how you can boost your balance doing nothing but relaxing and letting someone else do the work.

A foot rub.

Massage of the feet improved single limb stance in a group of people over the age of 65.1

And, it was after just one session too.

My guess is that massage and balance are blind to age. I’ll bet that no matter your age, your balance will improve after a good session of joint jiggling, tissue tugging, and muscle manipulation.

When you massage, rub, pull, twist, knead soft tissue, you “wake” it up. Or more precisely, you wake up your brain. That’s what’s happening with the foam rolling rage. You’re not doing anything to the tissue itself such as rubbing out “knots” or breaking up tissue. You’re telling your brain to pay attention to this area.

I can hear the cries for help now. “But, he said a foot massage would improve my balance! You don’t want me to fall do you?”

That’s all I have for now.

Thanks for reading.



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  1. Vaillant J, Rouland A, Martigné P, Braujou R, Nissen MJ, Caillat-Miousse JL, Vuillerme N, Nougier V, Juvin R. Massage and mobilization of the feet and ankles in elderly adults: effect on clinical balance performance. Man Ther. 2009 Dec;14(6):661-4. Epub 2009 May 8.