Published on May 5th, 2013 | by Joe Starks0
Physical Fitness Types: Balance
Have you ever watched a toddler trying to learn how to walk? They wobble, they fall and they constantly try to grip on some surface to stand upright. The biggest difference between a toddler who can’t walk yet and one who already does is not muscle strength or bulk. They already have plenty of muscle from crawling, which is actually a quite taxing exercise (if you ever tried it, you I’ll know). No, the biggest difference between these two kids is that the first lacks balance, while the second has it. The toddler example is a great way to realize how massively important balance is for us bipedal humans. We all usually have quite a good balance by the time we can walk and run, but this is not the peak of our ability.
People tend to think more about cardio and strength training, or agility and flexibility than they do about balance. You can’t expect to perform in any sport without balance and the better it is the better your performance will be. What is balance then? How do you train it and how important is it? Let’s answer these questions with simple facts.
What is balance?
Balance is the ability to keep your body upright and to keep control of your body’s position during movement. If you lack balance you can’t stand on one foot for long and you can’t walk on narrow surfaces without wobbling.
There are two types of balance:
- Static balance, where you have to keep your balance while being still
- Dynamic balance, where you have to keep your balance during movement
You can easily test your balance by counting for how many seconds you can stand on one foot or by placing one foot before the other (with the front foot’s heel touching the back foot’s toes) and trying to stay steady with closed eyes. If you wobble or can’t keep that position for long your balance is poor. No worries though, you can easily improve your balance in many ways.
How to train for balance?
There are many simple everyday ways to improve your balance. When you have to stand around in a line somewhere you can try shifting your weight on one foot only and alternating between your feet regularly. Another way to improve your balance is to replace sitting on a chair with sitting on an exercise ball. If you do little things like that your balance will improve massively over time.
For some more dynamic balance training there are amazing workouts that are all about balance. Using a BOSU ball for instance is a priceless workout when it comes to balance. The BOSU ball looks like an exercise ball cut in half and placed on the floor. Standing on it or doing strength exercises on it is very difficult if your balance is poor, meaning that you are training it.
The balance board is another great way to boost that balance of yours. It looks like a skateboard with one major difference: it only has one wheel. Trying to stay upright on a balancing board is difficult yet rewarding.
If you want a complete balance workout you can sign up on a yoga or tai chi course. These two sports (among others of course) are excellent in training your balance while also increasing strength and flexibility.
How important is balance?
Balance is quintessential when it comes even to the smallest movement. You can’t even walk correctly without a good balance! This means that nobody can actually have a high quality of life without a little bit of balance training.
People who have lost their ability to balance because of ear problems, injuries or muscular weakness know all too well how big a handicap it is. When you become overweight or obese, as well as when you only train a certain groups of muscle your body’s balance can become weak. This is why it is important to keep a lean body and a uniform muscle growth if you wish to have great balance.
Even the smallest change towards a better self will massively improve your life’s quality when it comes to balance training. Start simple and build your training up. As you cultivate your balancing ability you will feel the many positive impacts it has on your life.