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March 5, 2012. This is a 1-minute exercise that’ll improve your balance. The Plus? It’s a great Stretch for your quadriceps muscles. It increases leg Strength. And wherever you are, it gets you up on your feet for a minute so you Don’t Just Sit There.

Balance on one leg while you stretch the quadriceps of the other. Press Play to watch. Or read on.

As you raise one leg, you’ll feel all those small muscles in the foot and ankle of your other leg working overtime to keep you balanced. The muscles that need to be strong, flexible and conditioned to react and adjust instantly whenever you begin to lose your balance.

Quadriceps Stretch
Raise your right leg, bend your knee and bring your foot up and behind you. Hold your foot, near the ankle, with your right hand. The bottom of your foot should be near or right up against your butt.

Your left leg should be almost straight. Let it bend just slightly at the knee. Feel all the muscles – big and small – in your left leg bearing all your weight. And being strengthened for it. Feel the small muscles in and near your foot wobbling a little bit, constantly adjusting and centering your weight to keep you balanced.

You’ll also feel your right quadriceps being stretched. To increase the stretch, slowly lower your right knee while you keep your right foot in place behind you. Stretch, don’t strain. When you’re just starting an exercise, only go as far as you’re comfortable. You’ll feel muscle tightness; you shouldn’t feel pain.

During this quadriceps stretch, don’t lean forward or backward. If you need a little help when you start doing this, just stand next to a chair or desk and rest a finger on it. Don’t lean on the chair – just use it for stability. After you do this exercise a few times, you probably won’t need this.

For me, the major benefit of this exercise is improving your balance by strengthening all the small foot and ankle muscles – and by giving them some practice. So when the real world gives you a bumpy road, a slippery sidewalk or a rocky trail, they’re in condition to react and adjust quickly and surely. And keep you up on your feet.

Do this for 30 seconds on each leg. If you have an extra minute, do it two or three times on each leg.

Click to see a Balance Board that’s a complete Better Cheaper Smaller home gym for strength and aerobic training, too.

Stretch
Stretching is too often neglected by exercisers pressed to fit workouts into their busy schedules. This common mistake can reduce the effectiveness of exercise because better flexibility results in better fitness.

By increasing your flexibility you can improve your ability to move around. You will have less muscle tension and your posture will likely improve. Most importantly, stretching after each workout reduces your risk for injury.”(American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons)

It’s Always Something
Of the 300,000 men and women over 65 who fracture a hip this year, 20% will die within a year. And 50% won’t regain their mobility; they’ll move to nursing homes. (Journal of the American Medical Association.)

You, like everybody, could slip, trip or otherwise sprain an ankle or end up on your butt later today. And off both your feet for six to eight weeks. Not to mention the pain. But you can buy a balance board for twenty dollars. That’s less than the co-pay in the emergency room. For a small, simple device that helps you improve your balance quickly and dramatically.

Balance Board by [resource=BalanceBoardReebok Reebok],
$17.99.

My favorite: this 3-in-1 Adjustable Balance Board. $49.77. A Better Cheaper Smaller home gym for strength and aerobic training, too.

Just starting with a Balance Board? Start with the easy and familiar: balance on two legs. Then move on to one leg at a time. When you master that, step it up a bit. Just one leg at a time on the balance board, but this time you bring the other leg up into a knee lift. To make the balancing act a bit more challenging and to strengthen your hip muscles.

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