Contributed by: Michael Devon, NASM-CPT
Balance training is often an overlooked component in many exercise programs, however it must not be ignored. The benefits of building better balance include: less likelihood of age related falls, enhanced coordination during exercise, greater body awareness, and a stronger core…to name a few.
Balance can be challenging and sometimes frustrating to train because of the unstable surface that it is trained on. When balance training, your body’s proprioceptors are being stimulated to constantly tell your body where it is relative to the environment around it. Your body is trying to achieve a controlled environment despite the unstable surface training. This type of training prepares your body for unstable situations and surfaces such as: hiking over lose gravel, stepping off curbs, playing sports, slipping on a wet floor or other situations where your chances of falling are increased. Teaching your body how to effectively balance can improve your chances of catching yourself before you fall to the ground.
Next time you are in the gym instead of doing plain shoulder raises or bicep curls, try standing on one leg while you perform these very same movements. Shifting the weight to a single leg causes your proprioceptors to activate and thus your body instinctively works to prevent itself from falling over.
Fit tip- remember that your body goes where your eyes go; when balancing pick a spot a few feet in front of you and keep your eyes focused on the spot throughout the exercise.