Balance is defined as the ability to stay upright or stay in control of body movement. It draws upon our main senses including our ears and our eyes. Good balance is important for all forms of movement. Training balance at a younger age can help to reduce falls when someone gets older. There are two types of balance: static balance and dynamic balance. Static balance is balancing in one place without movement, whereas dynamic balance is balancing with movement. The skill of balancing can be lost as someone ages if they don’t continuously practice. Balance is one of the 4 main components of fitness, along with strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular. It is important to practice each of these components in order to be a well-rounded athlete.
Many people are not aware of their lack of balance until they start to exercise seriously and find themselves unable to complete certain movements. Practicing balance challenges often neglected stabilizer muscles and helps to improve joint stability and internal focus. In addition, posture will improve. Gone will be limitations such as hunched shoulders, anterior pelvic tilt, and reduced upper back mobility.
Balance training differs from cardio and strength training because there are no specific guidelines. This type of training can be done by all age levels, from young kids, to older adults. It would be ideal to incorporate balance training at least a couple times a week as an accessory movement along with your strength or stretching work.
This can be as simple as utilizing more unilateral movements in your strength training workout or standing on one foot while doing weight training such as curls or a shoulder press. In weight training, if you have no balance, your center of gravity is restricted and can cause injury. As for stretching, try to do some stretching such as a quadriceps stretch without holding onto something or a glute stretch while standing. If you enjoy yoga or tai chi, these are also good forms of exercise that can improve your balance and bring your body and mind into harmony.
If you are an endurance athlete, balance will help you run harder, bike longer, and swim stronger. No matter what type of athlete you are, there is a benefit from having good balance!
If you want to take your balance training to the next level, you can purchase foam rollers, balance boards, or stability balls. These accessories make balance training more fun and there are many different variations, so you won’t get bored. If you don’t have time you can practice your balance around the house by standing on one leg while doing simple tasks or trying to balance on objects outside such as a curb.
If the reasons listed above are not enough to convince you to improve your balance, here are some additional benefits. Studies have shown that people who have better balance have better coordination, increased muscle power, and recover from injury faster. Its never too late to start improving your balance, so get started today!