The Importance of Balance
Balance and Stability
We talk about balance a lot in the gym.
- Balancing different movements to ensure we’re working out each part of the body.
- Balancing food to ensure we get enough proteins, carbohydrates, and fats into our body.
- Balancing work, workouts, and a social life.
The one we forget most often is actual balance; synonym of stability, steadiness, footing. When you see something like Russian box step-ups or anything preceded by “single leg” do you get nervous about falling over? This is balance related and it’s important to take the time to work on it.
WHY should you spend the time working on balance?
- Reduced risk of injury. Knowing where your body parts are in space (known as proprioception) is important for knowing how to control them and in turn will significantly lower the chances of you having to say that you lost your balance and fell.
- More coordination in everyday life. Another phrase I hear a lot is, “Oh man, I’m so uncoordinated.” Better balance will help with that. Every bit of your body has to work together while doing balance drills and this will transfer to everyday things.
- Joint stabilization. Single leg drills help strengthen the stabilization muscles in the knees, ankles, and hips. These joints are important for squats, running, cleans, etc. Name the movement and we can find it.
- Quality of life. One of the most common sources of injury for the elderly is falling. One fall can lead to a significant decline in quality of life due to the fact that recovery time is lengthened as we get older.
EXERCISES to improve balance.
- Single Leg Romanian Deadlifts. This exercise is absolutely wonderful when done correctly. You are working total body stabilization here. This is a deadlift so keep your hips square to the ground (hinge), and engage your glutes as well as your shoulders. Only go as low as you can where your hips don’t turn out.
- Difficulty can be adjusted with your foot attire, hinge depth, and the addition of weight.
- Single leg ball toss. Whether it be with another human or with a wall, tossing a ball or similar object back and forth will test your ability to stabilize as well.
- Time on one leg. Standing on one leg is the go-to test of balance. The difficulty can be changed multiple ways.
- First, make it more difficult by adding duration. The longer you’re on that one leg, the more difficult it gets.
- Second, stand without a shoe. Without this shoe, your foot has to be able to stabilize that much more.
- Third, change the surface you are standing on. The squishier the surface you’re standing on, the more difficult the task will be. Again, lower the amount of time when you start with this transition because the intensity rose.
- Side planks. Vary these by supporting yourself on either your forearm or hand as well as holding your legs in various positions.
About the Author
Before coming to LIV Athletic, Alex was the Field Operations Director for Youth Combine, a non-profit youth fitness organization in Gainesville. Alex has the ability to brighten your day from the moment she answers a phone or sees you in person. She brings a whole new level of fun to our community. She is also a University of Florida grad with a degree in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology. Through her education, attention to detail, and all around barrel of laughs, her Sweat classes will leave you feeling strong and sweaty with a big ole’ smile on your face.