Lets be realistic about this topic. Although balance training for athletes is (or should be) common practice, not too many general fitness programs recommend elements of balance training to the greater exercising public. When I say general fitness, I’m not talking about Yoga. Many Yoga practices center around your core and balance. However, lets keep the topic to general fitness training for this post.
Maybe the reality is that training for balance just doesn’t seem sexy. It won’t give you huge guns. It won’t blast out your chest, and it definitely won’t help you lose 30 lbs. So why would one want to train for balance then? Although the benefits may not seem very clear, training for balance can affect your life in many positive ways. First and foremost, it allows all of your muscles to act together as one the way they were meant to be. It can also help you from beating yourself senseless on every table, chair or ledge you walk by as poor balance can be a major cause of clumsiness. Lets also not forget the boost balance training can lend to your favorite weekend warrior activity of choice.
Since poor balance can lead to muscle imbalances(where stronger muscles overcompensate for weaker muscles), it just might be adding to all that back pain most people live their lives with today. If you work on computers all day, or anything really where you are doing a single repetitive motion for hours at a time, balance training is a must for you.
To better understand the topic of balance, lets first talk about the two different types of balance as it pertains to fitness training.
First off, we have Balance (or sometimes referred to as Static balance). This is when the body is in a completely stationary state with no linear or angular movement. Examples of static balance would be simply standing still, standing still on one leg or holding a squat type position.
The other type would be Dynamic balance. This would be any movement and the ability to change directions under various conditions without falling. So, basically everything you do while standing is some form of Dynamic balance.How quickly and efficiently you are able to move can all be enhanced with some type of balance training performed two to three times per a week.
Now that you understand balance and its importance to you, lets take a look at a few basic exercises to help you get your life back in , uh hum, balance. Since your balance all starts at the center point of your body, ie: your core, the first part of this routine will focus on a few basic core stability movements. A strong core equals a strong center of balance. In the video playlist below, you will find a few core exercises that will help you improve your core stability. Click on the button in the upper left titled “playlist” to switch to a different video.
Core Stability Exercises
Perform 2-3 sets of 12-15 repetitions of these exercises 2-3 times per week.
Perform 2-3 sets of 12-15 repetitions of these exercises 2-3 times per week. The slower the movement the better.
The balance movements can also be done anywhere just like the core exercises. Sorry I don’t have the fancy videos for examples.
1. Stand with one leg out in front of you at a 45 degree angle to the floor, about 6- 9 inches off the floor. Hold for 30-60 seconds, then switch legs.
2. Stand with one leg in front of you off the ground (as in #1). Take the lifted foot and slowly rotate it side to side. Perform for 30-60 seconds, then switch legs.
3. Same movements as # 2, but this time instead of side to side, lift the leg as high out in front of you as you can, and then back down without touching the ground. Perform for 30-60 seconds, then switch legs.
4.Single Leg Lift and Chop. For this movement, you will stand on one leg as with the above 3 movements. Hold your hands up above your head, both on one side. You will then take both hands together and make a chopping movement across your body and end with the hands below your waist on the opposite side you started. The movement is very similar to watching someone chopping wood. Repeat this exercise 4-5 reps per side.
Perform the four balance exercises in a circuit fashion. All exercises 1 time each, then go back to top and start over again for a total of 3-4 sets total. To make things harder, try standing on a block, or going barefoot.
This whole workout should take 20 minutes, and is easily added at the beginning or end of any exercise program you are currently doing. If you are not currently exercising, this is also a great way to build up your core for harder exercises at a later time.
I hope this helps you become more balanced. Until next time, happy exercise!