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Why is Balance Training Important?

Today we are discussing why it's important to incorporate balance training into your routine. With a few of my clients currently working on their balance and coordination i thought why not touch upon the importance of this.While it may not sound exciting, striving for balance in our everyday lives can promote an assortment of benefits. In fact, the benefits of physical balance go far beyond just being able to walk steadily.

Balance and flexibility are way more important than most people give them credit for. And you’ll notice this by paying a single visit to any commercial gym. Everybody is focused on strength, endurance or speed.

Balance and flexibility are definitely one of the best fitness amplifiers.

They improve performance, make every exercise more effective, prevent injuries, improve speed, agility, strength, endurance, weight loss and muscle gain in general. Promoting better control over each and every movement, training for balance and flexibility finally puts you in charge of your own body. You are going to feel every inch of a movement, and every muscle firing up, like you never did before.

Needless to say, such amount of awareness will make every session much more interesting, and much more enjoyable. 

In a more straightforward way, we can say that exercise performance depends entirely upon having control. Being aware of each and every movement is the fastest way towards improving yourself.

If you want to become more agile, you’ll need to be super aware. If you want to become faster, you’ll need to work on your reflexes, again, striving for awareness.

But being aware puts you in control of one of the most important aspects of fitness – range of motion. When you intentionally manipulate range of motion, performance increases by a huge margin.

Some physical barriers, however, need to be addressed as well. It’s not enough to think about range of motion – you’ll have to practice it as well. Balance can easily put you in control, but you need flexibility as well in order to enable the body.

You won’t necessarily have to do Yoga, but basic stretches will pave the road towards improved flexibility and balance.

The Balance Assessment

This simple balance assessment is a great place to start. To begin, be sure to have something sturdy to hold onto nearby, and then close your eyes and stand on one foot. Keep track of how long you were able to hold this position.

This can be an eye-opening experience for those who believe they have good balance. Longevity researchers agree that good physical balance can turn back the clock not only physically but functionally. The time, in seconds, that you are able to hold this position correlates with your functional age.

  • 28s = 25-30y
  • 22s = 30-35y
  • 16s = 40y
  • 12s = 45y
  • 9s = 50y
  • 8s = 55y
  • 7s = 60y
  • 6s = 65y
  • 4s = 70y

Functional age is the combination of individuals' physical, mental, emotional and actual chronological ages. 

Balance exercises can also prevent everyday injuries through core strength. Balance begins in your core. The core is more than just the abdomen; strong hips, ankles and gluteal muscles are also critical to good balance. Persons with weak core muscles are more prone to falls, decreased mobility in the spine, slower reflexes and lower back injuries.

Good balance can also support mental clarity and ease anxiety. Researchers concluded that people who took part in balance exercises had greater cognitive gains than those who did not. These exercises also ease anxiety by encouraging the individual to remain in the present moment.

Give these a go 

  • Be a Tree - Stand on one foot for at least 30 seconds, and then switch.
  • Have a Ball - Sit on a stability ball with your feet planted flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Lift and extend one leg at a time, while simultaneously raising your opposing arm to shoulder-level.
  • Leg Swing - Start by standing with your arms at your sides and feet shoulder-width apart. Lift one leg to a 45-degree angle and swing it back and forth at least 10 times before switching. R
  • Drinking Bird - Begin by standing on one leg with lifted leg at a 45-degree angle. Bending at the waist, lean forward to touch the ground. Then, with one hand touch the ground, if your range of motion is limited use a higher cone until you can increase to the full range. 

One set of the exercises listed above will take about 5 minutes. Dedicate 5-15 minutes per day, or per week, to this routine and you will see the benefits in less than 2 weeks.

Advanced Balance exercises

Alternating pistol squat: Make sure your knee goes directly over your toes and does not turn in or out as you squat.  After squatting a few inches, return up to the starting position.

Repeat the single leg squat for 10 to 15 repetitions, and then move on to the next exercise: the single leg T-stance. 

Single Leg T- stance:Make sure your knee goes directly over your toes and does not turn in or out as you squat.  After squatting a few inches, return up to the starting position.

Repeat the single leg squat for 10 to 15 repetitions, and then move on to the next exercise: the single leg T-stance. 

Bosu Ball Deep squat:Placing both feet on the Bosu ball, work on the depth of the squat, keeping the weight back in the heels, keep the core engaged throughout the whole exercise. Once double leg standing on the BOSU becomes easy, switch to standing on the BOSU with one leg.  Again, increase the exercise intensity by closing your eyes or by performing mini squats on the BOSU.

When you flip the BOSU over and place the curved side down, you can repeat the balance exercises by standing on the flat side.  Progress from standing with both feet on the BOSU, closing your eyes, and performing mini squats.  Then perform the exercise progression with one leg on the BOSU.

“Balance is important in every aspect of your life”