Thursday, March 18, 2010

Balance Training

In the past couple of years I've worked with personal training clients who vary in age and condition from 18 year old track & field athletes to 80+ year old people who are trying to make better use of walkers. The central theme that runs through training for all ages and activities is balance. And where does balance come from? It's not from having highly developed muscles on any particular part of your body; it's developing the stabilizing muscles around the spine and joints.... and that highly misused sports word of the moment - "core".

But think about it. What keeps you upright? What keeps your spine straight and your posture erect? Muscles around the spine... abdominals and lower back... What keeps you from falling when you are losing your balance? (I've been observing a lot of this recently with rollerskating as we attempt to build a roller derby team!) A myriad of muscles around your knees,  ankles and hips. An amazing and seemly innate ability to "right" ourselves?

Balance can actually be learned and/or improved by putting ourselves in positions of instability and "dealing" with these situations as much as possible. This is why running on a treadmill will never replace running outside (especially on uneven terrain such as trails); and why using weight machines in the gym will never be as good for getting us ready for "real world" activities as using free weights--especially combined with stability challenges. We don't often lift something through a single isolated plane of motion with every other muscle completely stationary.

So, for today, let's all stand on one foot at a time periodically throughout the day and repeat this mantra: Balance.....

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