When you hear balance training, what comes to your mind? Tight rope walker? Ballerina? Seal with a ball on it's nose? Thankfully, none of those is really what it's about! I don't know about you, but I have a fear of heights so tight ropes are out for me. Balance training is a method of exercise incorporated through other exercise forms. You are likely to see balance training classes for seniors, but for everyone else it shows up in aerobics, Boot Camp, PraiseMoves (similar exercise as yoga, but Christ-focused), Pilates, and even water exercise. Everyone needs balance training in a culture that sits more and physically works less. Jars of Clay posture 2 Corinthians 4:7, PraiseMoves.
I trained clients in their 20's with terrible balance. I worked it in through other exercises to help build the core and stabilizing muscles. After 4-6 weeks, they were quite capable of balancing on one foot and doing V-sits. This type of work begins with the core and continues through the ankles. Every body tries to right itself to remain upright. If you have balance, slipping on a small ice patch doesn't result in a bruised backside or broken bones. If you don't, the body is incapable of righting itself and results in not only a bruised backside, but may include a broken bone. Prevention is worth a pound--or hour-- of cure!
Posture is where balance begins.If the body is pitched forward as in slouching, balance is already compromised. Elderly people are often in this position. As the feet, knees, hips and back begin to weaken and have pain in the joints, walking up and down stairs becomes scary--the down more so than up. If there is limited flexibility due to lack of exercise, it adds to the difficulty of regaining balance in a fall and can lead to strained/sprained muscles. Stability balls and BOSUs are wonderful tools for almost everyone to begin using. Caution: if you are elderly or have a medical condition causing balance problems, please have a trainer work with you directly until balance is achieved! You don't have to be an athlete to do valuable balance training. Image from www.oxygenmag.com.
Where to begin if you are healthy: Stand by your kitchen counter with hand lightly touching counter, make sure that you shift your weight to the leg you will be standing on. Carefully lift foot slightly off the floor with the toes set to touch to re-set balance. Lift hand carefully off the counter. See how long you can do this before you hand and/or foot has to touch. Work both sides of the body. Try this 3 times daily. Before you know it, you will walk more fluidly and stumble less. You can also try sitting on a stability ball. Caution: make sure there is nothing around you to hit if you do fall! Your thighs should be parallel to the floor to know if the ball is the right size. Sit with your feet wide and body tall. Carefully bring your feet closer together. If you are doing well with no shake, bring your hands in toward your chest. Remember to find something in front of you to set your gaze. Pull the belly button up and in. Next, put your arms straight out to the side, then in front--Zombie style. You should now be able to lift them up overhead without falling. If you do fall, you are likely to roll with your ball! The Tree posture Psalm 1:3, PraiseMoves.
Balance training is good for everyone and can be built through several different exercise forms. Enjoy! May God bless you!