Balance is Key!
I often write about the importance of incorporating flexibility and core training into your fitness routine. Now as we kick off the month of August with a Workout Wednesday, I wanted to touch on what should be another important component in everyone’s fitness regimen regardless of your fitness level: balance training.
Balance is the ability to sustain or return the body’s center of mass or line of gravity over its base of support. Basically, that means whether you’re walking down a staircase in stilettos or setting up to make a jump shot on the basketball court, balance is a key component to all functional movements.
From an anatomical perspective, The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) explains the purpose of balance training is to improve dynamic joint stabilization, which is the ability of the body to stabilize of keep the joints in proper alignment during movement. (One example: stabilization of the hip during a squat by the gluteus medius and adductor complex.)
Maintaining proper alignment or form while working out is one of the ways to protect yourself against exercise-related injuries. In fact, countless studies have been done which show a direct correlation between balance training and injury prevention. I’d like to think we all agree anything that can help decrease our risk of injury is worth spending some time on.
So how do you do it? The idea is to perform exercises that constantly stress a person’s balance threshold. This is the limit a person can perform an exercise without losing control of his or her center of gravity. In “big-word terminology,” the idea is to push that threshold in a proprioceptively enriched environment. This is an environment that challenges the internal balance and stabilization mechanisms of the body.
In simple terms, balance training is typically performed on a single-leg and/or on unstable surfaces such as a half-foam roll, Airex pad or Dyna disc. Some examples:
- For beginners: Single-leg balance and single-leg balance reach.
- More “seasoned” fitness buffs: single-leg squats or single-leg Romanian deadlifts.
- Top of your game: multiplanar hop with stabilization or single-leg box hop-ups with stabilization.
One of my all-time favorite balance exercises is a single-leg bicep curl. It not offers proprioceptive challenge, but you can feel your core engaging to keep your body stable while working the arms. (Make sure to switch legs between sets.) As always, if you have a favorite balance training exercise, I’d love to hear about it!
I found this link very helpful in describing the purpose for balance training along with this one from the Mayo Clinic featuring examples of exercises. At the end of the day, balance training can be a challenging part of your exercise program and just one more way to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Posted on August 1, 2012, in Fitness, Health and tagged Balance Training, Core Training, Flexibility Training, Laura DeAngelis, Lauren Bachner, Leslie Hassler, NASM, Single-Leg Balance Reach, Single-Leg Bicep Curl, Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.