Life is a Balancing Act
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Balance, or stabilization, is an essential part of all the movements we make in everyday life. You may not consciously think of your body using balance in most situations. However, your body requires good balance to perform many basic movements such as walking, standing up out of a chair or leaning over to pick up something. Good balance requires strong muscles that are able and trained to keep you steady and upright as you move through your day—this is where balance training comes into play. Cooper Fitness Center Professional Fitness Trainer Daniel Montes explains the basics of balance and how to incorporate it into your workout program.
Stabilization is the key to all functional movement and is crucial for any age. “Static stabilization is being able to maintain a certain position without moving,” explains Montes. “Dynamic balance is the ability to balance while a certain joint is in motion."
Balance can be difficult to maintain if it is not intentionally trained and can be greatly affected by various factors of different life stages.
- Obesity or being overweight makes your body change the angle and width of your feet and in turn changes your walking gait and ability to balance.
- Aging brings about balance challenges that can be caused by inactivity, medications and improper diet.
- Pregnancy also affects one's balance due to the extra weight and strain being put on the front of the body. The body subsequently attempts to shift its center of gravity which puts stress on the joints and muscles, especially on the pelvis and lower back.
Your body and brain work together in order to help you balance. Proprioception, often referred to as the “sixth sense,” is the awareness of how your own body moves or is positioned. With the use of sensory neurons in the muscles, tendons and joints, your brain and body are able to coordinate together to balance when your other senses are limited. You use proprioception if you were to close your eyes and bring your finger to your nose. This is also what helps us walk in the dark without falling.
Try out these exercises to help improve your overall balance!
This move is sure to strengthen the stabilizing muscles in your core. Start by balancing on your left foot. Bending your right knee, raise your foot up until your knee is about hip level. With both palms up, reach both hands straight out in front of you. Bend forward and extend your right leg straight out behind you. Hold this position for 10 seconds and return to starting position. Perform the move 20 times before switching legs and repeating. As you become more comfortable with this move, gradually work toward your torso becoming parallel to the floor.
Begin with your feet together. Lift your heels off the floor, balancing on your toes. Reach your arms out to the side with your palms facing up. Pulse your arms one inch forward and one inch backward. Repeat this 20 times with your palms facing up and 20 times with your palms facing down.
Glute Bridge March
Lie on our back with your knees bent and your feet hip-width apart and flat on the ground. Keeping your knees in line with your feet and hips and your abs tight, squeeze your glutes as you drive your hips up toward the ceiling. Holding this position, bring one knee slowly toward your chest. Bring the raised leg back down and repeat 10 times per leg.
Balance training isn’t solely beneficial for your body, but also your mind. As you develop your balance through stabilization training, you will simultaneously improve your motor skills, muscle strength and brain’s sensitivity to your body’s position in space.
For more information about Cooper Fitness Center or to schedule a session with a Professional Fitness Trainer, visit cooperfitnesscenter.com or call 972.233.4832.