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Building strength, balance, power and grace from within

Achieving Balance

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Proprioception:

Movements require the interaction of the mind and body. Information from the ears, eyes, joints, muscles, tendons and joints are linked to (and within) the brain. Your body constantly makes adjustments with every movement you make based on past motions and the current circumstances. When you move while sustaining good alignment, you actually move more efficiently because you require less muscle activity to hold the positions.

Proprioception is a fancy word that is used to describe being in balance. When you have good proprioception it means that you have a good sense of where your body is in space. With balance training, you can improve the mind body communication and thus improve your proprioception.

A different kind of balance: 

Another kind of balance and worthy of mentioning is defined as attaining symmetry in strength, flexibility and structure.

Strength: Muscular balance is achieved when the muscles on the left side of the body matches the muscles on the right side. The muscles are in balance when the opposing muscle groups are in proportion (not necessarily equal).

Flexibility: The muscles are in balance when the length of the muscles on one side matches the length of the muscles on the other side. It also means that the muscles acting in opposition are equally flexible.

Structure: Our bodies are not perfectly symmetrical. For example, we may have one leg slightly longer than the other.

By trying to attain balanced strength and flexibility during strength and conditioning sessions, we can decrease our risk for injury and improve performance.

Getting Started

Core First: Try standing on one leg with one arm in the air. Keep your midsection relaxed. Have someone gently try to tip you over. If you are not engaging your core (or midsection), you will likely topple over.  Now try the same thing but keep your belly pulled in and tight. Do you feel more stable when someone tries to knock you over? So, when you balance...remember to use your core! 

No Equipment Needed: You don't need to buy any expensive equipment to improve your balance if you are creative.  Just by closing your eyes, standing on a pillow, moving your free leg, or moving your entire body-you can increase your challenge.

Use your Stabilizers: Make sure you last 20 -30 seconds with whatever exercise you choose to do. You need to try to fatigue those small stabilizers around your ankle, hips, back etc. Exercises that are too challenging will cause you to fall too quickly, never quite fatuiging those muscles.

O.K.-Gadgets can be fun: Although you can challenge your balance by utilizing things around your house, having those gadgets around REMINDS us how important it is to work on balance. It makes training a little more interesting too.

  • Half Foam Roller (1 side flat/opposite side rounded)
  • Balance disc
  • Bosu
  • Therapy ball (use the size guide)

This equipment can be found at sporting good stores and/or discount chain stores.

Beginning Balance Exercises

Standing Single Leg Balance: See how long you can stand on one leg. If you last 30 seconds, increase the challenge by doing 1, 2, or all 3 things!

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1) Close your eyes: Eliminating your visual senses makes your other sensors work harder.

2) Move your free leg: Try doing figure 8's with your free leg.

3) Work up to an unstable surface. You should be challenged but not wobbling all over the place.

 

Seated Core Balance: Practice sitting on a physioball. Too easy? Increase the challenge by:

1) Perform a marching motion.

2) Try lifting both legs off the ground while staying upright.