August 3, 2011
I go on…
The most challenging balance training is to hold a balance position; then maintain this position while one body part moves. My balance position here is a Side Chamber. I compound this move with a Side Kick. The challenge is to keep my entire body in the same position despite the knee extending and bending. As the knee extends, my center of gravity moves further from my midline and my stabilizing muscles have to adjust to maintain balance in the same position. Balance is not achieved by leaning my torso further in the opposite direction, which would keep the center of gravity in the same position (check out the blocks in the previous blog). As my knee retracts my foot back, my stabilizing muscles have to adjust to the moving center of gravity again. Balance is maintained by muscles that function to limit or stop movement of the spine and pelvis. If your body is rocking all over, then you are not effectively balance training. This move should be practiced on the ground first by holding the Side Chamber for 2 minutes. Then add the side kick, working up to kicking for 2 minutes. Once mastered, you can either reduce the stability of the surface you are standing on, or reduce the surface area touching the ground. I have done both here by standing on a BOSU upside down. Ultimately you could perform Side Kicks on the BOSU for 2 minutes while your body stays in one position and BOSU rocking is kept to a minimum.
June 28, 2011
More on Balance
Any balance training is better than none, but if you have mastered standing on one foot, then it is worth understanding the concept between balanced and balancing. Look at these blocks; they are balanced, stable and no work is being done. These blocks are not getting stronger or better at balancing. Balance training means putting yourself in an unstable position where your muscles are struggling to maintain the position. The challenge is that our minds subconsciously try to position our bodies as these blocks, ‘looking’ as if we are unstable, but really just distributing/stacking our weight evenly and therefore reducing the effort needed to hold the position. The most important part of balance training is to adjust the center of gravity away from the midline of your base or reduce the stability of the surface you are on. The weight of the blocks is centered on the midline where as my center of gravity is to the left (my right) of my base (my foot).
A squat is balance training often done incorrectly. Many people move the torso forward (and extend the arms) so that all the body weight is balanced and the legs have very little work to do. The second squat, done correctly, shows the center of gravity is behind the midline of the base (the feet) and the quards are working to keep you from falling backward. Effective balance training does not require weights. In fact weights should not be added until a balance position can be held for 2 minutes.
Body weight balanced like blocks
Legs working to hold position
June 1, 2011
Balance is a brain workout
Balance is one of the most functional elements of fitness, but balance training is often not part of the average person’s program. Balance training burns more calories than conventional weight lifting because stabilizing muscle groups are working in addition to the target muscle group.
Balance training also burns more calories because your brain has to concentrate and focus much harder than when you are zoned out running or lifting. Compound those calorie burning benefits with improvements in cognitive function. Studies are showing that people who do balance training improve their decision making skills.
If you already do balance training, take it to the next level. Closing your eyes forces your brain to rely on a combination of sensory information from your limbs and joints.