Balance is a fundamental part of our day-to-day lives, and is something that we are unaware of the majority of the time. It’s a part of everything we do on two feet, whether it’s standing, climbing stairs, running or jumping.
Have you ever watched a baby struggle to get to its feet on their first few attempts? It’s not the lack of core and leg strength that presents the challenge, it’s learning balance skills.
When balancing, we’re using those often-ignored stabiliser muscles and also improving our joint stability.
This is one critical area of physical fitness that tends to decline as we age, so taking measures to maintain and even improve it is important.
Balance-focused activities that challenge our bodies’ vestibular and musculoskeletal systems as well as our kinesthesia (body’s ability to sense movement, action, and location) help us achieve better balance but the benefits stretch far beyond this.
The Benefits of Balance Training
#1. Reverse one of the signs of aging
We all get older, and like I already mentioned our balance control declines. In fact, one indicator of longevity is the length of time that you can stand on one leg.
Balance skill is a complex ability that we take for granted where the brain, muscles, and parts of the inner ear work together. If you live a sedentary life, like a lot of people do a lot of the time then the coordination between these three systems can decline over the long term, making it harder for you to stay upright and have a healthy posture.
Consistent physical activity into your later years keeps your body working like it’s much younger, helping you to stave off some of those balance issues that can result in accidental falls. This brings us to benefit number 2.
#2. Reduced Risk Of Falling
Balance training helps you to better control your core and arms and legs. This improves your movement and greatly decreases the risk of falls. When you have good balance, you are more adaptable to changes in body position, adjusting on the fly to unexpected variations in elevation and uneven terrain underfoot. This is important for me as I love hill walking whenever I have the time.e.
Avoiding falls due to poor balance not only helps you avoid physical damage, like broken ankles or hips; it also makes you feel more confident in everyday life.
When your balance system is working optimally, you can more quickly react to slips on icy days, making it less likely that you’ll fall.
#3. Improved Posture
I mentioned earlier about the ever-more-sedentary lifestyle that many lead nowadays, as a fitness professional I can honestly say that the average person has less than optimal posture. Rounded shoulders, anterior pelvic tilt, and reduced upper-back mobility are challenges that I see come up often. A big part of the reason for this is that many of us don’t do the balance training necessary to undo the effects of our lifestyle.
Improving balance is excellent for the body, restoring it to a more natural state. Posture and balance go hand in hand together.
#4. Improving Coordination
Humans living in a more natural environment should have excellent coordination, just like other animals in their natural habitats. However, modern living and technology have made redundant many of the physical tasks that we would have done in the past. This means that we rarely have to practice balance, resulting in poor coordination.
Luckily, humans are versatile and adapt very quickly. Balance exercises like the routine later in this blog will help increase muscle mass, improve body movement, promote good posture and develop proper balance.
With good balance, you should be able to intuitively adapt to any physical situation, without actively having to think about it.
#5. Improving Recovery From Injury
People who train athletically, whether it’s aerobic exercise or strength training, often run into injuries, especially of the leg and ankle. In fact, much of what we have learned about balance has come from research on those with lower-leg injuries. This is how we’ve learned that the more balance drills people perform, the faster they recover from injuries. They may even help with injury prevention.
#6. Improving Your Running Technique
If you’re not an experienced runner, then you’re likely to have bad technique. This can result in all sorts of injuries, from shin splints to knee pain and hip problems. This poor form results from a lifetime of not having to run daily as our ancient ancestors would have. The outcome of this is that many are unaware of the dynamic position of their bodies.
Dynamic balance drills can help you to assess your center of gravity better unconsciously. Then, when you do go running, your technique and confidence will improve.
#7. Increased Muscle Power
Balance also plays a part in strengthening your muscles, increasing their performance. The more force they can exert, the faster you’ll be able to move and the higher you’ll be able to jump. Balance can help in practically any sport that requires short, sharp, and powerful movements, like boxing or MMA, and can help build great all-around functional strength.
So that’s 7 reasons why balance is important for your health. If you’re looking to improve your balance an excellent place to start is the video above. Also, you can download our FREE Mobility is Medicine ebook. It only takes a second. If you need more support then you might be interested in booking a Success Session where we can chat about your fitness goals and discuss one of our personal training programmes will help get you there.
Until next time, “Strength for Life”
Davie McConnachie is Scotland’s leading health and wellness coach, multi-award-winning gym owner, motivational speaker, and the founder of DMC Fitness, a fitness education facility known as the premier choice for 1-2-1 personal training. He has inspired thousands of people to fall in love with fitness – his true mission in life.
In his own fitness journey, Davie has athletically competed in Mixed Martial Arts fighting for Scottish and British titles, boxed for Scotland’s top amateur boxing team, and competed internationally in Girevoy (kettlebell) Sport.
Diving into the world of sports and wellness has helped Davie to deal with his own inner demons. He. overcame many dark times using his own unique method to complete his cycle of H.E.A.L.I.N.G.