Lets talk about Balance training- Part I
What do we mean by Balance?
– We intuitively understand that balance means maintaining our posture and equilibrium despite our surroundings. We know that a person with good balance can do things like skateboard, ski and play sports well. A person with poor balance may trip just walking on an uneven surface.
Why do we Care?
– Balance is a component of all movements and can help in both our athletic pursuits and day to day lives. A functional example can be seen in the elderly. An older person who falls is at a greater risk for breaking a bone than someone who is younger. This is important because balance can be trained. By spending the time and effort to train balance we can become more functional, safer, and better at the things we enjoy.
What affects Balance?
– Balance has a lot to do with the neuromuscular system. Certainly we have all heard of those with inner ear problems, but for a majority of people balance involves neurologic pathways, muscular balance (length tension relationships), proper joint dynamics, and neuromuscular efficiency. There is substantial evidence to suggest that sensory feedback to the central nervous system (involved in proprioception and neuromuscular efficiency) is inhibited after injury. This means that those who have been injured are more likely to have problems with balance than those who have not. This decreased efficacy of the central nervous system will lead to poor movement patterns, posture, and likely further injury.
How do you Train Balance?
– Balance like strength training involves constantly challenging oneself. With strength training you strive to lift more weight or do more reps, with balance training you want to stress “limits of stability,” or the area you can go outside of your base of support without losing control of your center of gravity. This is done by training functional movement patterns in an environment that provides controlled instability and utilizes multiple planes of movement. This trains the nervous system to activate the right muscles at the right time, and in the right plane of motion.
– It is important that a Balance-training program be systematic, methodical, and progressive. The exercises that should be chosen depend on an individual’s specific abilities and the phase of training they are in. The next post will involve different stabilization exercises including how and when they should be utilized.