A big thanks to Rupert, Personal Trainer at Rupert Hambly Health and Performance for his expert advice with this blog post.
Sure, you might be able to squat it like it's hot / run 5k without breaking a sweat / hit 3 gym classes a week, but can you do a one-legged squat?
Balance is an integral part of our day to day lives, the most basic and simplest of movements, such as walking to the shops or bending down to pick up your child require a good balance system to stop us from keeling over.
Having a good sense of balance for both static movements (standing still) and dynamic movements (sprinting) can greatly help your performance both in and out of the gym.
Benefits of Balance training:
- Joint stabilization – Balance training makes your knees, ankles, hips, and shoulders more stable which can help prevent injury.
- Co-ordination – Improves the communication between the muscles and the brain, so you're more likely to be able to do that complex Zumba sequence!
- Core activation – Its very difficult to stay upright with a weak core. Balance training forces your core to work harder, and the stronger your entire core is the better your posture will be.
- Body awareness – balance helps the body interpret and use information about your position in relation to your surroundings to maintain your desired position. When the information received is too complex to translate, the system gets overwhelmed and you lose your balance - like when you're attempting a particularly tricky yoga pose or trying to navigate a complex biking track.
- Reaction time – All it takes is a hand to be raised slightly higher than the other hand, or a sudden noise that makes you jump and you suddenly find yourself wobbling in a precarious position. It takes quick wits and a quicker body to adjust your body to maintain balance. With regular practise, these adjustments will become second nature and you’ll react and adjust without thinking.
- Injury prevention – Learning where your centre of balance is and how to control your body will help with injury prevention. If you’re able to balance on one leg whilst someone throws a medicine ball at you, you’ll be able to walk along an unsteady surface such as sand or snow with less risk of falling.
- Muscle integration – during complex movement you are trying to maintain stabilization, forcing you to engage your prime mover muscles predominantly whilst integrating your stabilisers (something most gym machines don’t allow you to do).
A perfect example of this is the pistol squat. This is a fairly advanced balance movement but is a great thing to work towards. Pistol squats create incredible leg strength, flexibility and of course, balance.
So as you can see, incorporating some sort of balance training into your routine can lead to a huge range of benefits for your body and your overall performance, whether that be running faster, lifting heavier, doing more complex yoga movements or simply performing everyday tasks.
Live in London and want to find out more about balance training? Then check out Personal Trainer Rupert today!