Balance is the ability to maintain a controlled body position during task performance, whether it is sitting at a table, walking the balance beam, or stepping up onto a kerb. To function effectively across environments and tasks, we need the ability to maintain controlled positions during both static (still) and dynamic (moving) activities.
Static balance is the ability to hold a stationary position with control (e.g. “Freeze” or “statue” games). Dynamic balance is the ability to remain balanced while engaged in movement (e.g. running or bike riding).
Working on your balance probably isn’t an integral part of your everyday life or workout, but here is my theory behind why it should be. The benefits for improved balance range from a reduced risk of injury to improving intelligence and even potentially increasing one’s life span. With that in mind, here are my three main reasons to work on improving your balance, as well as some ideas on how to get started.
Improved balance and muscle group coordination will naturally increase your body’s ability to control itself during challenging tasks. For athletes, this means improved agility, quicker reaction times, and improved overall performance. For non-athletes, it could mean being able to forgo use of a cane for short periods of time or being able to safely walk on grass in the park instead of having to stick to sidewalks.
Balance Goes Beyond your Legs
When you work on your balance, you’re concurrently firing a multitude of muscles from your head to your toes. Challenging your muscle groups to work together in ways that they haven’t had to before can lead to improved control of muscle groups that may have been dormant from years of sitting and leaning. Learning (or re-learning) how to use your muscles synergistically can improve your posture and strength, which can have several health benefits including a reduced chance of getting arthritis, back pain, or other health issues.
Balance for Injury Prevention
Improving your balance has shown a lot of promise in being able to prevent injuries for a wide range of people. For athletes, balance work is associated with a dramatically lower risk of injury. Just one sprained ankle can alter your season and will predispose you to future ankle sprains for life, but regular balance work can decrease your risk of a sprain by nearly 40%. For the elderly, improved balance could prevent a fall, which is the cause of over 90% of all hip fractures–one of people’s most life-altering (and shortening) injuries. I think it’s obvious that the potential benefits of working on your balance will greatly outweigh the small-time investment on your part.
This blog is updated by Tranquillity 360 fitness personal trainers, as well as other guest bloggers.