How strong is your balance system?
As children we develop good balance by practicing balancing activities – walking along walls, jumping, spinning and climbing. As adults, we tend to take balance for granted. But this complex system helps you look and feel good and needs plenty of regular attention to operate at its best. Here’s why you need to focus on improving your balance system.
A healthy balance system gives you more energy and strength and helps you move freely and confidently. Keeping your balance system healthy is especially important if you have problems due to illness, such as joint pain, weakness or dizziness. In these cases, balance training can help you get back to normal and overcome feelings of stiffness or unsteadiness. A strong balance system also helps in sports.
Sprains and strains are often due to a lack of balance. The term proprioception refers to a sense of joint position; it is required for every movement we make and for maintaining balance. Even a strong ankle can sprain when running on uneven ground if the runner hasn’t trained the neuromuscular system to react appropriately. Proprioception training is highly common in rehabilitation of injured athletes, but it can just as easily be used to prevent injury.
No matter how old you are, balance can be learned, challenged and improved. Balance-specific exercises are designed to encourage normal motor sequencing, muscle recruitment and joint stability – all prerequisites to developing a balanced body.
Stretching, stabilization and dynamic exercises, as well as task-specific balance skills, lead to long-term stability. In addition, balance-specific exercises help you develop an awareness of body segments and how to align them.
Enhancing your balance system will ultimately improve your postural endurance, control and awareness; reduce your risk of injury; help you overcome illness and ensure you play your best during sports. Spend time working on your balance system each week, and you’ll soon see the benefits.