Fostering body awareness, acceptance, and improved performance.

Balance 101: How it works and how to train it

“My balance is perfect. I don’t need to practice” said no one, ever.

Balance while sitting, kneeling, and standing
Balance while sitting, kneeling, and standing

I’ve never heard this. Not at the gym, in the Pilates studio, or on the soccer field.

All of us can could benefit from improved balance. Whether you’re 9 or 90, a better functioning balance system will prevent injury and increase your performance of everyday activities and sports.

And the ability to balance is driven by a complex system. There are three areas that provide input for balance:

  • vision
  • proprioception – the sensory communication from your soft tissues, recognizing their own position and motion
  • vestibular system – inner ear

This input from your body feeds your brain information so that you can:

  • arrange your body’s alignment in relation to gravity, when you’re still or in motion
  • determine the speed and direction of your movement
  • see clearly while moving

Here are some easy tips to incorporate balance training into your life:

Tooth brushing with 1 leg balance
Tooth brushing with 1 leg balance

Safety First. Have an exit strategy so that if you fall, you can land safely. Or find something you can hold for support.

Incorporate balance into your current activities. You can balance on one leg while brushing your teeth. If you’re already at the gym doing squats, try them on a BOSU®.

Try different postures. Most of us think of standing balance. But basically balance is holding steady over your base of support. So change up that base. You can train your balance in kneeling, lying, and seated positions. If you want ideas, try our MOTR training.

Equipment for Balance Training
Equipment for balance training

Use tools. You can place your body unstable or wobbly equipment. There are a lot of store-bought tools made specifically for this purpose. But you can find way to balance in nature too. A downed log is a great balance beam. Or you can walk from rock to rock at the beach.

Up the challenge  You can swing your limbs to increase the difficulty of an exercise. If you change your visual input, balance becomes harder so try closing one or both eyes. For more challenging balance exercises, see our next balance blogpost.

If you’re interested in balance training and need help to get started, join us in the studio. To schedule that complimentary trial session, click here.

 

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