Have you ever read the side of the reformers in our class? The say Balanced Body. The physical therapist in me is about to project the name of our reformers onto a soapbox on which I frequently stand (if you’ve ever taken one of my classes- you’ve probably heard me talk about balance and/or fall prevention). Balance and fall prevention is one of my (many…) major topics in class. It comes up consistently for a reason though – let me explain!
Ask yourself the following questions – during a Pilates class can you do lunges and scooter standing on the reformer? Or do you stand on the ground? Do you have to hold on to the footbar? Have you ever fallen? Have you ever been scared of falling? Now ask yourself this – how much of your day do you spend standing on one leg?
Let me answer that for you- 40% of a normal walking pattern happens on one leg, going up and down the stairs occurs predominately on one leg, getting into a car happens in single leg stance… Have I made my point? So, we spend a huge part of our day standing on one leg and yet most of us NEVER exercise on one leg. Research suggests that if you can’t stand on one leg for more than 10 seconds you are at risk for future falls. Now- I adore the clients who take my class… but I don’t want to see them for physical therapy after they’ve had a traumatic fall!
So now that I’ve hopefully convinced you that doing exercises on one leg is a great idea I’d like to share a few of my favorite reformer balance and single leg stance exercises:
- Standing lunges
- Side splits
- Russian Squats
When you’re in class and one of these exercises comes up, instead of groaning I encourage you to try to push yourself! Try a more challenging foot position, try standing on the reformer instead of the floor, decrease your hand support and push a little further than the class before. Ask your instructor to spot you if you’re nervous. And always remember that we offer private sessions specifically to work on things that you struggle with in class and want to progress!
Lastly- all the work doesn’t have to be in Pilates class! Brush your teeth standing on one leg. Play catch with your kids or fetch with your dog standing on one leg. Wash the dishes (maybe not the breakable ones or knives) standing on one leg. Fold the laundry on one leg… Have I made my point? I encourage you to find a way to incorporate single leg standing/balance into your day in a way that doesn’t add to your already hectic life!
I encourage you to do your part at home and I promise that we will do our part in Pilates to help you continue to Balance your Body!
Stephanie Sprout DPT, PMA®-CPT