Balance exercises: How to train lower leg variability | Peter Attia, M.D.

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I think everyone appreciates the importance of balance at all stages of life, but as we age, the consequences of losing your balance tip from inconvenient to devastating to potentially life-ending.

There are many ways to train for balance, ranging from walking on uneven surfaces to walking on a tightrope or zipline.

Regardless of your ambitions with respect to balance, a big piece of it, and the part that probably matters most for your healthspan, is lower leg variability, or as @bethlewisfit likes to call it, “problem solving with your feet.”

Most of us have nowhere near the variability and proprioception with our feet that we have with our hands, which makes it much harder for us to maintain balance than it should be. We must have the ability to shift weight, accelerate and decelerate our mass through different parts of the feet in order to respond and stabilize appropriately to changes in our environment.

While I love to play with a balance board, it doesn’t really help me gain the “feels” with my feet that the Black Board tool provides. I have to use my foot and lower leg to respond to how my weight shifts up top.



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Peter is a physician focusing on the applied science of longevity. His practice deals extensively with nutritional interventions, exercise physiology, sleep physiology, emotional and mental health, and pharmacology to increase lifespan (delay the onset of chronic disease), while simultaneously improving healthspan (quality of life).

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Stuart Tett says:

Seems like you could DIY one of those pretty easily

Fithitesh says:

Can you please share the link of this equipment

ronlondres says:

This guy is amazing

Paul Newman says:

saw a youtube video of someone that built one for $9 – $10.

stsgabe says:

and you would recommend that for an overweight out of shape possibly much older individual? to get on a wobbly board and try not to fall down in order to prevent them from falling down in "real life"?

Lucky Hanger 13 says:

$158 on amazon…..ouch!

A P says:

I've used my balance board with a wobble cushion underneath to achieve the same kind of movement

Maciej Siedziako says:

Link to the product?

Juan Wick 李 says:

Where can i get that black board with velcro for balance?

Amit Kumar says:

Just do single leg deadlift.

T D says:

I stopped lifting after covid hit. I used to wonder why guys did the balance boards in the gym. BUT…
Now I have some balance trouble putting on a sock while standing – at 62.

Christine G says:

Is this good for plantar fasciitis?

Anthony says:

Load of nonsense, people balance train just by standing and walking, what kind of doctor recommends such ankle twisting excercise?

onlycorner says: ingrigi

Ben Nguyen says:

Aside from the 90 euro BlackBoard.. any thoughts on the much less expensive, Yes4All Wooden Wobble Balance Board?

SomeAssemblyRequired says:

Posting links is probably a no-no, but this text is searchable.

The studt "Efficacy of a progressive resistance exercise program to increase toe flexor strength in older people," showed that for every 1% increase of body weight generated beneath the big toe, the risk of falling decreases by 7%. 

Dr. Tom Michaud, a world-renowned expert in the treatment of lower extremity injuries, recommends a simple exercise to increase toe strength and decrease the risk of falling. Begin by standing in front of a wall, close enough so that you can support yourself with your hands if you need to. While keeping your hips and torso straight, slowly lean your body forward while forcefully pushing your toes down into the ground. Hold this position for 5 seconds, then push your body back to vertical by vigorously pressing down with your toes. Dr. Michaud suggests that people perform this exercise 20 times per day.

The pressure from your toes decelerates the forward motion of your torso, and as your toes become stronger, the distance you can lean forward will gradually increase.

Joe O says:

I love your show! Try this! Find around a dozen small stones of varying shapes and sizes. Put them in front of your left foot. Pick up one at a time with your right foot and place each one it in front of where your right foot was. Then reverse the drill for the other foot. You will increase your foot dexterity as well as work out the tiny muscles in the foot that has weight on it. The constantly changing movement from side to side really helps your balance. It's actually fun to do.

Sam B says:

Why not explore barefoot running? When I use my extreme minimalist sandals and trail run I can get great proprioceptive feedback.

Glenn Overhoff says:

just ordered. can see the benefits. thanks!

maddogfo54 says:

I’m 67 years old and still an avid runner. My running coach showed me a great stability exercise that’s super simple and requires no equipment. In the morning and evening while you’re brushing your teeth, while barefoot stand on on leg with your knee slightly bent. If you look at you ankle of the foot on the ground, you’ll see all the tendons firing. Do one leg in the morning and the other at night. Works great!

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