How many times in the past six months did you lose your balance in everyday activities, exercising or performing in your chosen sport? How often do you consciously work on your balance and stability to ensure your body can cope in any situation in any given time when it needs to move quickly to avoid an accident or ensure the safety of yourself or your loved ones?
In 2008 the HSE introduced a strategy to “Prevent Falls and Fractures in Ireland’s Ageing Population” and according to their stats one in three older people fall every year and two-thirds of them fall again within 6 months.
While helping our older family members to prevent accidents and fractures caused by falling it is also important to prepare our own body and help our children understand why it’s important to keep working on our balance and stability skills.
Besides the average Joe and Jane, athletes and sports persons also benefit from training for balance and stability since improving them will also result in improved overall sport performance. Let’s dig in and see what exercises to perform regularly to keep our balance and stability in check.
Balance and Stability Definition
Balance is the ability to maintain the centre of gravity above the base of support through the coordinated actions of our sensory functions such as eyes, ears and the nervous system. Think of standing on one leg without falling. How long can you maintain that position?
Stability, or dynamic balance is the ability to control the body while it’s moving. From walking through running, climbing stairs and performing any sports, all motions require stability skills.
How do you control your body?
Whether you realise it or not while standing, walking, running or crawling, there is a body part which will play a major role in how well you are able to maintain your balance and stability. That body part is your CORE.
Core does not equal to abs. Core includes a group of muscles like the pelvic floor, transversus abdominis, internal and external obliques, spine muscles, the diaphragm and glutes. These and many others are responsible for a range of functions including humans being able to stand upright and every motion related to that.
Besides the strength, power and flexibility of your muscles you also need to have your central nervous system (CNS) attent which can promptly receive and forward stimuli to and from the eyes, ears, brain and body parts to react to changes as quick as possible.
How to maintain and improve stability and balance?
Practice makes perfect goes the saying. However, it does matter what that practice involves.
You need to take care of unilateral work to achieve optimal symmetry and balance between your body and CNS.
With our strength and conditioning clients we perform big lifts to improve strength, however before and after those lifts we spend time working on essential movement patterns, for example single leg exercises, like lunges, single leg deadlifts, pistol squats, single arm lifts, presses, pushes and pulls to stimulate the nervous system and aid improved stability and core strength.
People often underestimate the importance of good balance because everyday movements have become automatic and are taken for granted so until we are limited in our abilities we may not realise what it takes for our body to maintain general function.
Performing stability exercises regularly will help our body move more efficiently and smoothly, it also ensures better body awareness and strengthens proprioceptive abilities.
Balance deteriorates with age. This process begins around age of 25, earlier than we would think. The good news is progressive worsening of balance is both reversible and avoidable for up to 5 or 6 decades. It’s essential for everybody to understand the importance of focusing on activities that challenge and improve our balance every day so injuries and fractures due to poor balance or stability can be prevented.
Balance can be consistently improved, it requires new activities and challenging yourself every day for the rest of your life. There are a variety of balance based exercises available or even better if you include a low intensity type practice that focuses on balance and harmony of your body like Tai Chi, Yoga or even Pilates.
At home or at Callanan Fit Club you can always find new exercises based on a balance ball, swiss ball or even using only your own body weight that will help keeping your balance in check.
Summing it up
Balance is used by all. It helps improving performance, coordination, having good control over your body and of course avoiding injuries. It can and should always be improved to ensure a long, accident and injury free life.
Contact our team to find out more about how to work on your balance and stability.