Balance is an integral part of our day to day lives, the most basic and simplest of movements, such as walking to the shops or bending down, require a good balance system to stop us from keeling over.
Having a good sense of balance for both static movements (standing still) and dynamic movements (sprinting) can greatly help your performance both in and out of the gym.
Benefits of Balance training:
- Neuro-muscular coordination – Improves the communication between the muscles and the brain.
- Muscle integration – during complex movement you are trying to maintain stabilization, forcing you to engage your prime mover muscles predominantly whilst integrating your stabilisers (something most gym machines don’t allow you to do). A perfect example of this is the pistol squat!
As you can see demonstrated in the above picture, as i come down into the pistol squat i lean forward ever so slightly to adjust my balance, using my front foot as a support.
- Joint stabilization – Balance training promotes stable knees, ankles, hips, and shoulders. This can prevent a whole array of injuries including sprained ankles and serious knee problems.
- Core activation – Its very difficult to stay upright with a weak core, Balance training forces your core to work harder, and the stronger your entire core is the better your posture will be.
- Proprioception (Body awareness) – It’s the body’s ability to interpret and use information about your position in relation to your surroundings. Through a complex system of environmental feedback, cues from the bottom of your feet, the relation of your inner ear to gravity, and what you see, your body senses which muscles to activate or deactivate to maintain your desired position. When the information received is too complex to translate, the system gets overwhelmed and you lose your balance.
- Reaction time – All it takes is a hand to be raised slightly higher than the other hand, or a sudden noise that makes you jump and you suddenly find yourself wobbling in a precarious position. It takes quick wits and a quicker body to adjust your body to maintain balance. With regular practise, these adjustments will become second nature and you’ll react and adjust without thinking
- Injury prevention – Learning where your center of balance is and how to control your body will help with injury prevention. If you’re able to balance on one leg whilst someone throws a medicine ball at you, you’ll be able to walk along an unsteady surface such as sand or snow with less risk of falling.
Rupert Hambly Health and Performance Team