Fostering body awareness, acceptance, and improved performance.

Balance 201: Turn up the Heat

Today, we turn up the heat on your balance practice. Last week, we discussed how balance works and how to get begin improving it. If you missed that last post, get caught up here. Today we add challenge to your balance training.

Vanessa's Fav Balance Exercise - Balance Lunge on the Bodhi
Vanessa’s Fav Balance Exercise – Balance Lunge on the Bodhi

Here are the 4 variables* that contribute to the intensity of a balance challenge:

1 – Contact Points – Number of body parts on a stable surface.

CHALLENGE = more limbs in the air or on unstable surfaces

2 – Visual Affects – Visibility and focus of the eyes.

CHALLENGE = close your eyes, turn down the lights, unfocus your gaze

3 – Movement – Speed and size of movement

CHALLENGE = move faster, move bigger

4 – External Stimulus – Intensity and number of external force exerted against the mover

CHALLENGE = add more or heavier weights, add a push or pull against the mover

You can use any one of these four variables to change the intensity of a movement, making it easier or harder. But also consider how you can add two variables simultaneously. You can increase a balance challenge by closing your eyes (Visual Affect), but also hold a pole for support (Contact Point). In this example, you’ve used one variable offset another, making the exercise hard but still manageable.

Now its time to get creative. You can modify any balance move with those 4 variables so that it better matches your ability and goal. Say for example, you’re planning a hike over rocky terrain. You’ll want to train your balance so it matches your hike; I’d recommend balancing on uneven surfaces carrying an External Stimulus (like your backpack) with extra Contact Points (like your trekking poles).

Here are some tips and favorite exercises from our instructors:

Janet: “As a Certified BOSU® Balance Trainer, I’ve noticed that people often need an intermediate step between standing on both legs and standing on one leg. I encourage people to use their free leg as a kickstand. They get the feel of a one leg balance with the security of little extra contact to the floor.” Janet is using the Contact Point variable to make a one leg balance more stable by adding another toe on the floor.

Balancing on one leg, practicing reciprocal limb movement - a perfect warm up for a trail run!
Balancing on one leg, practicing reciprocal limb movement – a perfect warm up for a trail run!

Vanessa: “I love the Bodhi Balance Lunge. It’s a great stretch too”  The Bodhi Balance Lunge uses three of the variables, Movement, External Stimulus, and Contact Points, to add difficulty to a basic grounded lunge. See our group training schedule for more info on Bodhi Suspension Training.

Rebecca: “I’ve been playing outside with my son lately. We are part of a toddler hiking/geocaching group that meets every week so my balance work is in the woods. We like to walk along logs and jump from one rock to another. Here’s my warmup Balance for Trail Running. I use Movement (swinging my limbs) to make a one leg balance more challenging. I run on roots on my favorite trail so standing on a round surface like a MOTR® is great training.

So you want to test your balance? Try our MOTR Class, where you can test your strength and flexibility while balancing in standing, sitting, lying and kneeling positions.

* “4 Variables” courtesy of BOSU® Balance Trainer Workout System

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