Balance training is a key component in any fitness routine. Feeling confident in the ability to move your body in a comfortable and stable manner can open up your fitness routine in a variety of ways.
Aside from simply preventing falls, balance training is great for strengthening the core and building stability in and around the joints. When working on balance with my clients, I encourage them to look at it like play. To improve balance you will most likely have to lose your balance…a lot….which can be frustrating. Figuring out which muscles to engage can be like a game of Jenga. Fire up this, relax that…if you’ve ever wondered where your glutes are, practice enough single leg balance and you’ll surely come across them.
A few weeks back I wrote about walking on the beach as a way to improve proprioception. The following are a some other ideas to help you build a better sense of stability and balance:
-Practice Single Leg Exercises: This can be as simple as standing on one leg or as complex as performing a single leg deadlift. Either way, you are building strength in the muscles that support the spine as well as the hip, knee, and ankle joints. This is especially important if you participate in activities that involve landing on one leg, like running.
-Play Ball: Stability balls (also called physio or swiss balls) are great for building core strength. Sub a ball in for a bench while practicing your chest press or take your core workout from a mat to the ball. They also make great desk chairs!
-Tackle Tree Pose: Yoga is excellent for building balance. Since it is usually practiced in bare feet, the smaller muscles of the foot and ankle are more active than they would otherwise be when in shoes. The extra attention given to balance in a yoga trickles over to other physical endeavors, which is why I often recommend it to clients training for sports.