Balance is an underrated principle of our everyday ability to function. It keeps you upright, allows you to walk without assistance and helps prevent injury. But there are a variety of things that can reduce our sense of balance, from both an internal and external perspective.
Simply explained, a good sense of balance or good proprioception allows us to recognize our position relative to other objects around us, including the surface on which we are standing, walking, or running. Balance is an important aspect in carrying out both simple and complex movements.
Balance training is often neglected when people are developing their fitness regime. This may be because they don’t understand the benefits of balance training. Fortunately, there are things you can do to improve your sense of balance, and they can be done by anyone, regardless of age or ability. At The Center of Health and Sports Medicine and RISE we can help to improve patients/clients balance through individualized exercise programs that address specific balance deficits.
Balance is a key component of fitness, along with strength, endurance, and flexibility. There are various ways to perform balance exercises. Performing single leg balance exercises with dynamic movement and using equipment like a stability ball, foam pad, or balance board can be incorporated. While improving your balance can help with performing your daily activities it can also benefit athletic performance.
Here are some benefits to incorporating balance training into your workout:
- Injury Prevention – Proprioception or Body Awareness is the sense of how your limbs are oriented in space. Balance training improves body awareness, which decreases the likelihood of injury.
- Coordination – Balance training requires your entire body to work together; otherwise you will fall or stumble. Improved coordination during balance training will be transferred into coordination in everyday life and athletic performance.
- Joint Stability – Balance training promotes stables knees, ankles, hips, and shoulders. This can prevent a large array of injuries including sprained ankle, serious knee problems and hip instability.
- Reaction Time – Balance training can improve one’s reaction time. If you happen to slip or stumble when performing balance exercises, your body needs to re-balance immediately or you will fall. This in turn will improve your reaction time in everyday life and athletic performance.
- Long term health- Incorporating balance training into your exercise routine helps to maintain or improve your balance, which is needed to prevent falls which can lead to severe injury. As we age, our balance can deteriorate and this is something we want to avoid.
It is evident how important balance is to living a healthy, functional life. Balance exercises should be incorporated into your fitness routine. If you don’t know where to start, try these balance exercises:
- Balance on one foot for 20 seconds on each side.
- If you can maintain your balance for 20 seconds try performing with your eyes closed.
- Walk heel to toe in as straight a line as you can.
If you would like to learn how to incorporate more balance training into your exercise program come see us at RISE at the Center for Health and Sports Medicine.