It's All About Balance
I know what your thinking…balance training is for old people or elite athletes and I’m neither! But that’s far from true.
Balance training helps maintain core strength, coordination and proper posture. You rely on your body’s balance system to ride a bike, walk up and down stairs, carry groceries, swing a golf club and any number of day to day activities.
Your body uses a complex system of cues to assess your position in space and activate or deactivate muscles to maintain your position. If your system gets overloaded you lose your balance. Incorporating 5-10 minutes of balance training exercises into your routine a few times a week will help keep you from becoming overloaded.
Here are a few simple things to do that don’t require any equipment. A great general way to improve balance is to do things with your eyes closed. So as you become more proficient with any of these exercises, try doing them again with your eyes closed.
- Hop 10 times on one foot. Perform each hop in a controlled manner making sure you are balanced before you begin the next hop. Switch feet and do it again.
- Airplane stand. Begin by standing straight with arms out at sides and feet shoulder width apart. Hinge forward at the waist while lifting right leg straight back behind you. Hold for up to 10 seconds, return to start position and repeat, lifting left leg.
- Leg swings. Begin in same starting position as Airplane stand. Slowly lift right leg in front of you keeping it straight. Hold for 2 seconds and swing it back through start position and backwards as far as you can. Hold for 2 seconds and repeat up to 10 times. Return to standing position and repeat with left leg.
- Side leg raise. Begin in same start position as Airplane stand. Slowly raise right leg out to side. Hold for 2 seconds. Return to start without touching foot to ground and repeat up to 10 times. Return to standing position and repeat on left leg.
- Broad jump with one-foot landing. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and arms at sides. Bend knees slightly into a crouch position. Jump forward about 2 feet and land on right foot only. Repeat, landing on left foot only. Perform up to 10 jumps on each foot.
If you want to get fancy with your balance training, there are lots of fun gadgets that you can work with like balance or wobble boards, inflatable balance discs, foam rollers or BOSUs. You can do similar exercises with these items and they provide an unstable base so your body has to work hard to maintain balance.