Balance – Watch Your Step
What is Balance?
Balance is the common reference when we talk about trying to stand on one leg, tripping on a curb or straining an ankle. The actual term for balance is proprioreception or the position of a joint. The body must be aware of the positioning of all joints during movement. This is called Kinesthetic awareness. Adjustments for changes in movement whether on stable or unstable surface is balance. Balance can be learned, challenged and improved. The body’s proprioreceptive system is responsible for monitoring the movements of muscles and joints and relaying that information back to the brain. It is this feedback that then tells the body to adjust for movements, gravity, unstable surfaces, etc.
Why is Balance Important?
Maintaining your balance in all situations is critical to preventing injury whether you are involved in a sporting activity or just walking around the house. It is our balance, via our nervous sytem that reacts during times of instability to either help us move more efficiently or prevent a fall. Falls, especially in the older individual can sometimes be the determining factor in the quality of life enjoyed. Being able to respond to situations quickly and efficiently will quite often dictate if injury occurs. One of the things noticed by most people when they begin a properly designed strength training program that encompasses balance training is that they can respond quicker to life’s little trip ups.
How Can I Improve My Balance?
A good sense of balance will deteriorate as we age due to various factors: inner ear disturbances, vertigo, muscle weakness or could be a by produce of other medical conditions. As aging occurs, most people will become less active leading to muscle wasting and weakness. Participating in an exercise program will help to improve your balance.
Improving balance or proprioreception is quite easy. It just takes a few minutes a day and can be done by anyone. Training balance can be a simple as standing one one leg for 3-10 seconds or completing a complex exercise such as single leg squat touchdown or step up balance to overhead press. Taking a few minutes every day to help maintain a strong sense of balance or kinesthetic awareness should be a priority in everyones life and especially the older individuals.
Here’s an easy exercise you can try anytime. Stand on one foot. Next, reach forward and touch the ground in front of you and stand up straight again. You should be able to do this and maintain your balance.
Balance is one of those facets of life we tend to take for granted until something happens. Most falls and certainly serious injuries from falls are preventable when your nervous system is strong and quick to respond. Don’t take balance for granted – train it now and it will keep you healthy and happy.
Till next time,