Last Friday's Southwest Florida sunset on Naples Beach was gorgeous! Enjoy exercise wherever and whenever you can, even walking the beach! Photo Courtesy of Charly Caldwell II. 😉🏝❤️
How often do you incorporate balance work into your training sessions?
I’m going to hedge a guess at not much. Most people don’t even think about our body’s ability to balance.
After all, that’s just a concern for the elderly, right?
Balance training is important for everyone.
It is as important a factor in fitness as cardiovascular, resistance and flexibility training.
In fact, without good balance, your ability to perform the other components smoothly and with efficiency is compromised.
Good balance not only plays a significant role in strengthening and stabilizing joints but it also increases proprioception, or the body’s ability to recognize where it is in space and to help control movements.
With increased proprioception, the body is able function and move efficiently.
Chances are, if you are already exercising or playing a sport then you are, unconsciously, working on your balance.
However, people who move less and are generally more sedentary tend to have poor balance.
This increases the risk of injuries like twisted or sprained joints or fractures from falls.
Regardless where you are in the range of poor to good balance, you can improve it, enhance it and maintain it with time and consistent practice.
A few simple exercises you can practice daily include:
Balance on one leg for 30 seconds.
If you start to wobble, bend the leg slightly at the knee. Keeping your abdominals pulled in and eyes focused on something straight ahead of you can make balancing slightly easier as it keeps you stable.
Slowly increase the time. Your goal is to eventually remain stable for one minute.
As you improve, start moving your head from side to side and up and down. This stops your eyes from focusing on one spot and will force you to balance your body.
Once you master head movements, take it up one level and try closing your eyes.
Without the visual awareness sight provides, you will be required to sense and feel which way you are leaning.
The next step is to hold a ball in your hands while balancing on one leg.
Toss the ball either in the air slightly in front of you or against a wall and catch it.
As you are now concentrating on the ball, your body will need to focus on remaining balanced.
Finally, once you have mastery of the above, incorporate a hop.
While balancing on one foot, hop into the air slightly and then land with the opposite foot. Take a second to refocus and stabilize yourself, then repeat on the other leg.
Your goal is to be able to hop from one leg to the other without wobbling or stumbling for about 3 minutes.
With just five minutes a day you will very quickly notice improvements in your balance.
Angie Ferguson is an exercise physiologist and Tony Robbins Results Coach from Fort Myers, Florida. She also is a Corrective Biomechanics Specialist, USA Triathlon Advanced Level 2 coach, USA Cycling coach, has a Specialty in Sports Nutrition certification, and a PhD in results!