Harvard Health Letter

Improve your balance by strengthening your core

Your abdominal, back, and hip muscles can help you avoid falls.

Are you walking a bit more carefully lately, or feeling unsteady on your feet? You may be struggling with a balance problem. That puts you at risk for falls, one of the top causes of injury among older adults. But strengthening your core muscles—in your abdomen, back, and hips—can help. "Core strength is intimately related to balance, because you need good stability at your core to have safe and effective movement at the hip, knee, and ankle," says Kailin Collins, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

Plank on table

Starting position: Stand facing a desk or counter with your feet together.

Movement: Tighten your abdominal muscles and lower your upper body weight onto your forearms on the desk or countertop. Clasp your hands together and align your shoulders directly over your elbows. Step back on the balls of your feet until you are balancing your body in a line like a plank. Hold. This is one rep.

  • Tip: Keep your shoulders down and back, and breathe comfortably.

Photos: Michael Carroll Photography

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »