I’ll never forget the first time I went for a jog on the beach. Even though it was only 20 minutes, it felt like an hour. I felt pain and places I’ve never felt before. My calves and glutes hurt for days. The reason was small, simple, and in fact, granular. Small kernels of sand took my jog from easy to grueling.
This is what exercising on an uneven surface can do for your body. It can challenge it in new and important ways. If you follow me on Instagram, perhaps you seen me use tools such as a wobble board, a foam pad, sand dune stepper or Bosu ball. Not only can working with uneven training tools challenge you physically, but it can help improve your balance.
While activities like walking can help by keeping you lively on your feet, specific balance exercises can help improve stability. One of my favorites is a reverse lunge on a Bosu ball. This one movement, done on an unstable surface, challenges your entire lower body—from your lower-leg stabilizers to your glutes.
While equipment-based exercises can be fantastic fitness tools, you may not always have access to them. The good news is there are many ways to challenge your body by altering the surface that you’re exercising on. Running on the beach is a great example, but summer weather isn’t always around and hitting the sand isn’t an option for everyone. Here are examples of things I’ve tried in the past to change my exercise experience, challenge my proprioception, and strengthen the stabilizers of my body.
Do Single-Leg Movements
Movements like the single-leg deadlift, warrior 3 kick-out, and one-legged wall sit help hone your balance-boosting skills. Need added incentive? Balance boosting moves force you to engage your entire body, helping you burn more calories in the process.
Take off your shoes and challenge your feet! From foot positioning to body awareness, going barefoot can help you be cognizant of your body and how it moves. Exercises I enjoy going barefoot on include deadlifts, lunges, and even upper-body movements such as shoulder presses and dumbbell lateral raises.
Hold A Stance
If you’re looking for a less-strenuous way to incorporate uneven training into your routine, stand on one leg. Really. Simple movements like holding a single-leg stance or walking heel-to-toe can help offset the natural decline in balance that comes with age.