Ever hear about athletes taking ballet to improve their sport performance or see football players running with high knees through tires? The reason they do this is to improve their agility. To be agile is to move with quick ease and grace. However, agility exercises are not just for athletes. Current research states that agility training helps reduce the risk of falls and, when combined with resistance exercises, can also help reduce back pain. So let’s get agile!
1. Side steps
– Step sideways right to left, then left to right.
2. Crossover steps walking forward
– Walk forward and cross over the midline with each step.
3. Crossover walking backward
– Walk backward and cross over the midline with each step.
4. Crossover side stepping
– Walk sideways, alternating front and back crossover steps (ie: step over then step under).
– Step sideways right to left then left to right.
5. Change of direction walking
– Walk forward approximately 5 feet, then backward to the start position
– Next, walk forward approximately 10 feet, then backward to the start position
– Then, walk forward approximately 15 feet, then backward to the start position
– Finally, walk forward approximately 20 feet, then backward to the start position
– Walk as quickly as possible, maintaining good balance and emphasizing quick and safe transitions between changes of direction.
6. Figure-8 walking
– Walk in a figure-8 pattern making loops approximately 5 feet, 10 feet and 15 feet long.
7. High steps
– Walk forward taking high steps, then walk backward taking high steps.
These exercises can be done in a long hallway that is roughly 20 feet long. Start with 3 passes of each exercise then progress to 5 passes.
- Start with small steps, then progress to take larger steps or higher steps.
- Start slowly and gradually increase speed.
- Add small weights in your hands with each exercise.
While your goal may not be to run through a football field and avoid being tackled, maintaining graceful movement in everyday life will help keep you on your feet!
Take care of your body and stay healthy!
Stephanie S. Saito, DPT, OCS, is a physical therapist at HealthCare Partners Physical Therapy in Torrance with a specialty in Orthopedics. A part-time instructor at Mount Saint Mary’s College in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, she holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from UCLA and a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from USC.
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