The ABC’s of Balance Improvement
Just how important is it to be able to balance ourselves in daily life? While it’s unlikely that there will suddenly be a rush of people walking tightropes anytime soon the ability to balance our weight is tremendously important. The simple act of walking, for example, requires a remarkable amount of balance and coordination when you consider that a human being spends roughly 80-85% on one leg. The cumulative effects of age, sedentary lifestyles, injuries and poor diet can make this simple act – one that so many of us take for granted – a monumental challenge. Just count the number of adults who rely on canes and walkers the next time you go to the mall.
So how do we perfect the art of balance and lessen the potential likelihood of having to rely on medical equipment as we go through life? It’s as simple as ABC.
A = Altering your base of support.
Balance, simply put, is the ability to maintain one’s center of gravity over a base of support. When we stand up our legs are our base of support. The wider our stance the easier it is to balance. As our legs move closer together our base of support becomes less stable. The simple act of bringing our feet closer together as exercises are performed will help to improve balance. Try this gradually the next time you perform any standing exercises – curls, squats, deadlifts or any upper body movements. While performing these movements make sure to keep a tight core (abs pulled in tight, neutral spine).
B = Balance on one leg.
Once you’re able to perform your exercises with a narrow base of support it’s time to try some of them on one leg. Keep in mind this adds a very different element to exercise so you may want to try this initially with no weight or much lighter weights. You can start by simply lifting one heel off the ground. As you become accustomed to the added instability you can lift the entire foot off the ground. From there you can begin to adjust the position of the raised foot – behind you, off to the side, in front of you, different angles… Just remember to perform the exercises on both sides.
C = Close your eyes.
A big part of our ability has to do with vision. Having a focal point of reference helps us to balance. Removing that focal point by closing our eyes adds a much higher degree of difficulty. For some people, simply standing still on both feet with closed eyes presents a challenge. You can start by simply standing on one leg with your eyes open, focusing on a point of reference in the room. Once you are stable you can now simply close your eyes. You may suddenly feel wobbly as your focal point is removed, but eventually this becomes easier to do. Again, make sure you work both sides of your body.
Over time you should notice improvements in your balance, posture, core strength, coordination and agility. These are things we take for granted until we lose them, so incorporate balance training into your daily routine. Remember, improving your balance is as simple as ABC!
About Rick Binder, CFT, CES
Rick Binder, CFT, CES is an ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer in San Diego, CA. In addition he is an NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist, a Certified TRX Instructor and he holds a 3rd Degree Black Belt in Hapkido Blend. He has trained groups and individuals to improve their level of fitness and self confidence. For information, rates or to schedule training sessions you can reach him directly at 818-324-0462 or at firstname.lastname@example.org