What are some of the benefits of balance training?
Written by Lydia Guyatt - Fri 22nd Apr 2022
Balance is the ability to control your body in a space, distributing your weight evenly in a way that allows you to stay upright. Many of us take it for granted, but everyone can benefit from improving your balance. Balance training exercises will strengthen your core muscles and improve stability, making you lighter on your feet.
Balance training can help EVERYONE, no matter your age. Athletes find it can make them more powerful, the older population can use balance training to prevent injuries from falls and maintain their independence. Fitness lovers know it helps improve workouts and just everyday life. In fact, just moving around efficiently in life requires healthy postural alignment and good balance.
1. Reversing age related loss of balance and preventing falls
Balancing is a complex skill that involves the brain, muscles and parts of the inner ear. If you don’t practice and maintain balance, the coordination between these three systems can deteriorate over time, making it harder for you to stay upright and maintain proper posture. When a toddler falls, they get back up and keep moving. But when an older adult falls, the consequences can be far more serious. Balance is one critical skill we tend to lose as we age, so maintaining it is crucial. It’s a use-it-or-lose-it proposition. Falls are the most common cause of injury related deaths in people over the age of 75 with over 5,000 older people dying as a result of a fall in 2017. Many more experiences a great loss of independence after a fall. Balance training can improve stability in older people to prevent falls and injuries.
Just as athletes can train their bodies, seniors can use exercise programs and moves that focus on balance to reduce and prevent falls. When you have good balance, you no longer have to worry about whether you might fall every time you leave the house. Even if you’re young, having the unconscious awareness allows you to feel more confident in your environment. When your balance system is working optimally, you can more quickly react to slips, making it less likely that you’ll fall.
2. Building better posture Improving balance is excellent for posture
It teaches you the static and dynamic positions that are natural to your human form. The average person has pretty poor posture, thanks to a focus on a narrow range of movement patterns, and a sedentary lifestyle becoming increasingly more common. Many people develop limitations like back pain, spinal dysfunction, joint degeneration etc. Part of the problem is that, as a population, we don’t do the balance exercises necessary to counteract the adverse effects of our lifestyle. Improving balance is excellent for posture. It teaches you the static and dynamic positions that are natural to your human form. Outstanding balance requires good posture.
3. Allowing a faster recovery from injury
Many people who train athletically suffer injuries, especially of the leg and ankle. Much of what is known about balance comes from research on people with lower-leg injuries. What that research shows is fascinating: the more balance drills people perform, the faster they recover from their injuries. Balance drills may also prevent injuries in the first place.
4. Improving coordination
Humans should have excellent coordination, just like other animals in their natural habitats. But, modern civilization prevents many of the physical tasks that we would have been forced to do in the past. This sedentary lifestyle means that we rarely have to practice balance. One effect of this development is our generally poor coordination.
Balance exercises, especially dynamic balance drills, like balance walking on railings, helps to relegate balance to the category of reflexive response. Ultimately, with good balance, you should be able to intuitively adapt to practically any situation, without having to think about it.
5. Maximising your workout time
Most people doing weight training in the gym spend much if their time sitting around, doing nothing, while their muscles recover from the previous set. If you’re a busy person and want to use your time as efficiently as possible, then it’s a good idea to find a way to capitalize on all that time between sets. Balance drills are an ideal use for those moments because they are low intensity and do not interrupt muscle recovery.
6. Improve your running technique
People with poor running technique can experience all manner of injuries, from shin splints to knee pain to hip problems. Poor form results from a lifetime of not having to run daily and not understanding the dynamic position of one’s body. People with poor balance will often develop a sub optimal gait to compensate. Dynamic balance drills can help you to assess your centre of gravity better unconsciously. Then, when you do go running, you’ll feel more confident making more significant strides, opening up your hips, and turning your feet forward. With additional balance drills, you’ll also learn how to swing your arms to counteract the rotation of your hips, and turning while striding, thereby reducing the strain on your core.
7. Increasing your muscular power
Balance can strengthen your muscles, quickly increasing their power output. The more force they can exert, the faster you’ll be able to sprint and the higher you’ll be able to jump. Balance can help in practically any sport that require short, sharp, and powerful movements, like boxing, and can help build all-around functional strength. For Athletes Proprioceptive training is often used with athletes to both rehab current injuries and prevent future ones from happening. By practicing balance exercises, athletes gain a sense of control and awareness of their joints and how they function whilst the body is moving.
Ankle injuries are very common in athletes due to all of the twisting and turning, stopping and starting. Even the most robust ankle will get injured if the athlete hasn’t trained the neuromuscular system to react correctly on various surfaces. Balance training will give athletes more power and force because they learn to use their centre of gravity efficiently. A stronger, more connected core helps you jump higher, throw farther, and run faster. For Seniors, when a toddler falls, they get back up and keep moving. But when an older adult falls, the consequences can be far more serious. Balance is one critical skill we tend to lose as we age, so maintaining it is crucial. It’s a use-it-or-lose-it proposition.
Falls are the most common cause of injury related deaths in people over the age of 75 with over 5,000 older people dying as a result of a fall in 2017. Many more experiences a great loss of independence after a fall. Balance training can improve stability in older people to prevent falls and injuries.
Just as athletes can train their bodies, seniors can use exercise programs and moves that focus on balance to reduce and prevent falls. For the General Population Let’s make this clear, balance training is for everyone.
You can start incorporating simple balance training into your life today.
A few ways to do this at home include:
• Whenever you drop something, like your keys or wallet, reach over to pick them up on one leg with the other leg lifting straight into the air behind you and engage your abs.
• Sit on a stability ball at work, or while watching TV.
• Try standing on one foot while you complete short daily tasks, for example, brushing your teeth or making yourself a morning coffee; alternate feet halfway through.