By WIN Contributor: Scott Paul, Personal Trainer
A hockey player skates down the ice, a sprinter runs the 100m, an older adult stands on their toes reaching for something up high and another person tries to keep control after stepping off the side of the curb. What do all these things have in common? They all require a degree of balance.
Balance is important in our everyday lives and the balance we have deceases as we age. That is one reason why we need to work on it. It is trainable. You can become better at it. Gymnasts who hop and jump on one leg onto a narrow beam do so with practice. You can get better, just as they do. I start to do a balance drill and have heard almost every time “oh, my balance isn’t very good”. I think “well, you’re in luck, that’s why we’re going to work on it." And that’s the thing; even those with the best of balance need to work on it.
I was at a conference years ago and the instructor leading the presentation said something that has stuck with me ever since. “To train balance, you need to put the body OUT OF BALANCE.”
It is like the Principle of Overload, where you must lift heavier and heavier, to get stronger. As you stand there, doing dishes, with two feet on the ground and about shoulder width apart, you’re not really working on balance are you? Just as you’re not working on strength by lifting your cell phone off the table.
There are many exercises we can do to work on balance, which for some might be just standing on a single foot, while others may need an unstable surface.
There’s the reaching drill, I often do with my clients at our wellness clinic niagara falls, where you reach to the front, to the side and to the back with one foot while standing on the other.
Also, try doing the dishes standing on one foot. That makes dishwashing a bit more challenging. Then try balancing with your eyes closed, or balancing while playing catch. There are tons of ways to keep it challenging and interesting.
Everyone needs to work on balance. For some it may be to help them with everyday tasks and for others it may be to help them with a particular sport. Balance is something that diminishes with age, but something we can train and get better at.