Why is balance so important? Balance is the ability to maintain control of a particular body position whilst performing a given task with minimal postural sway. Balance is learned as we grow, it is not something that we are born with. It starts with our body’s ability to learn to sit up and then to crawl and eventually we are walking. Though it might seem that balance comes naturally it is something that must be maintained. If we don’t use it we lose it! As we age the body naturally breaks down in abilities and balance is the first to go. With the right preventative exercises balance can be maintained and so will a healthier body as a result. Good balance is beneficial in not just daily activities such as walking but also in a number of varying activities many of us enjoy such as surfing, bike riding, or dancing.
Balance helps to better the neuromuscular connection, it increases the communication between the brain and the muscles. When doing balance training the muscle recruitment is much higher, therefore burning more calories versus simple doing an isolated movement. Not only are you burning more calories but you increasing your fitness and in turn have the ability to increase your performance as well.
At Santa Cruz CORE we incorporate balance in every workout we do because it is that important. We start with the basics and build up depending on fitness level and ability. There are two types of balance: Static Balance and Dynamic Balance. Static balance is the ability to maintain balance while in a stationary position such as standing on one leg. Dynamic balance is being able to control the body while moving. Each however, is essential to the other. Start with static balance and then build up to dynamic balance to not only improve your daily life but your performance in the activities you enjoy.
Start off with Static Balance:
Single Leg Balance: Start with the basics. Single leg balance on a hard surface. Keep the hips level as one knee bends. Squeeze the glutes. Too easy? Increase the challenge by then standing with 2 legs on a wobble board or airex pad and then increase it again by standing on one leg on a airex pad or wobble board.
Single leg balance ball toss: find the appropriate surface to stand on that is a decent challenge and then with a partner or using a wall bounce the ball back and forth to create more of a challenge on the standing leg and core muscles.
Plank: The tried and true plank is an incredible core stabilization exercise and works balance as well. Too easy? Try straight arm plank and then progress to forearms on the ball. Be sure to draw the abs in toward the spine and keep the entire body tight.
Side Plank: Side plank works the obliques and lateral movers through stabilization. This is a great exercise to really isolate those muscles such as obliques and glute medius as well as the shoulder stability muscles. Bring it up a notch with side plank on the hand instead of the forearm
Dynamic Balance Exercises:
Lift Offs: These are simple and effective for your legs back and abs. The Lift Off is performed by standing on one leg and then bending over at the waist with one leg stretched out behind you. Keeping your back straight at the waist.
Indo Boards: The indo board is most notably used by surfers to improve their balance, but it’s effective for all people. If you are a beginner, the indo board should be approached cautiously as some people have been known to fling themselves off and on to the ground. So, carefully get on the indo board, possibly by using a chair. With your knees shoulder with the part, let go of the chair. You’ll immediately begin seeing how this will help you balance. It requires a lot of control and core stability.
Bosu Ball Squats: Like the indo board, this exercise will challenge your stability and core strength. Throw in some squats and you’ve got a full body workout. Turn the bosu ball soft side down and carefully step on. While balancing slowly lower yourself into a squat and then back up again.
Bosu Ball Push Ups: This is a difficult exercise because it takes a great deal of control, core strength, and also upper body strength. With the bosu ball soft side on the ground, put your arms on the edges of the bosu ball and do a standard push up. Be sure to keep your core nice and tight and used slow controlled movements.
Finding muscular balance is almost a metaphor for life, learning to juggle responsibilities, and time off with fun and family. Muscular balance in your body will keep you more functional, help with pain management, and will allow the challenges of daily life to be met with a more grounded and centered attitude as a result of the healthier you. No better time than the present to start. With just one of these exercises for 30-60 seconds a day you will start to notice a difference in your strength and balance. Need more of a challenge? Follow our blog for more exercises or call us today for an assessment and workout!