All about the Balance

Elephant Balancing
All About the Balance

Balance, what is it and why do we need it?

Think about it, when was the last time you worked on your balance? For most people I am willing to bet that since they learned to walk as a toddler, they have never thought about balance again.

I have performed some kind of balance drill for years, primarily with my martial arts background. Nowadays I even end up wrapping my hand wraps standing on one leg at the end of a boxing session, performing swings with my non standing leg! I also do them in the dark before I go to bed. If I am out I am always jumping on walls or fences see how far I can reach before I fall or not!

Injury

Balance training is great for restoring stability in joints particularly the knee after injury. I have spent time after my recent knee injury performing such drills. Knee stability is paramount in rehabilitating the knee along with strength training and stretching.

Difficult to Measure

I frequently hear people going on about how fit or fast they want to be or how strong or powerful. Then they toddle off to the gym and get on the weights or on the track to try and make it happen. These are all valuable elements of an all round athlete, however there is one vitally important ingredient that can be easily missed….Balance Training!

I guess it might be because it is difficult to quantify, you can’t really say how fast can you balance or flex your “big guns” and say “look at the balance on that”. It is hard to measure and is therefore so often neglected. However, look at professional sportsmen/women, when their poise and agility just becomes one fluid movement as if they were born to do it, that is balance.

Balance is something that we can all work on, there are many drills that can be performed to improve its function. It is closely related to coordination and agility as both are dependent on how good your overall balance is. Problems that you thought were related to poor coordination or speed could actually be coming from poor balance. If the balance isn’t there you are going to really struggle to improve technique.

Maximise Performance

In say a combat sport for example, the power of a punch or kick is paramount. However all the explosive/power training in the world won’t help if balance is not mastered. Why? because without proper balance these techniques will not be effective, power will not be maximal and thus be ineffective.

Conditioning is the same, repetitive squats and lunges for example will be affected if balance is not present, it will directly affect the execution of the technique and therefore what you get out of it.

You must be able to control all body parts in a certain movement and be able to react quickly in the event of an attempted change in movement. The faster the reaction, the faster the recovery.

Improve Your Balance

Balance Training

To maximise performance/results, you must include balance training in your daily routine. At the end of the day balance is a mastery of your centre of gravity at all times. Although standing on one leg is a good basic drill, in reality balance training has to be dynamic as movements are dynamic. I have never seen “standing on one leg” as an Olympic sport!

Playing football for example creates a constant change in external forces surrounding you, whether it be the weather or other players, improving your dynamic reactions will allow you to maintain your centre of gravity.

Develop and train Balance in motion

There must be a variety of drills performed from basic one foot standing to dynamic balance training. There are many facets of training balance, start off slowly and work on improving.

Balance Training Drills

Include balance training in your daily routine. By incorporating a 5-10 minute balance routine in your daily warm up you should see improvements.

Try these drills no matter what you may think, I guarantee you that even if you think you can balance on one leg, your outlook might change if you then close your eyes and try it again.

One Leg

1. Balance on one leg with arms by your sides, switch legs every 30 seconds.

2. Same drill with your eyes closed

One Leg with head rotation

1. Stand on one leg with your arms by your sides, slowly turn your head from side to side  and up and down. Alternate legs every 30 seconds. Once mastered you can roll your head.

2. Repeat this drill with your eyes closed as before.

One Leg with leg swings

1. Stand on one leg with your arms by your sides, swing your non standing leg forward back and to the side.

2. Repeat this drill with your eyes closed as before.

Once you have mastered these then you can move onto more difficult dynamic balance drills:

Best thing you can use for this is a 2×4 inch wooden board, anywhere from 8 to 12 feet long.

Lunge

Perform the lunge technique whilst balancing on the board, do not touch the floor.

Heel to toe walking

Walk heel to toe from one end to the other.

Spinning walking

Walk along the board in a 360 degree spinning motion, every step you perform part of a turn. Once you complete one length go back spinning in the opposite direction.

If you are serious about training and want to improve, add this into your daily routine, I guarantee you you will see a difference.

yours in training

Dean Coulson

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