Balance Training Exercises


Fabio Comana, Exercise Physiologist: Hi. Today we’re going to talk a little bit about balance, and we’re going to take you through some balance exercises. Now, balance is probably one of the most important skills we could use in training; probably one of the most important skills we need in our lives. But it’s also the one skill that we don’t train. And it becomes even more important as we get older. So let’s start training balance at an early age, and maintain it into our golden years. With me is Rachel. Rachel is going to take us through a progression of balance training exercises, and the point is to find that level or that intensity that you feel challenged, and then take yourself from that point onward. So, what Rachel’s going to do, she’s going to show us the different foot positions. The first position she’s going to show is just what we call the feet in hip-width stance. Now, from there we can progress. Rachel’s going to just simply take a step forward. So, we can call that a staggered position or just a step position. We can get a little bit more challenging here by going into what we call a split position. And, again, if that’s not enough, Rachel’s going to go heel-to-toe and then ultimately where I’d like her to go is standing on a single leg. And so that’s going to be your progression. So, again: choose one that’s appropriate. I want it to challenge you, but I don’t want you to lose control. I want you to stay tight through here, and I want you to also feel the muscles in your glutes and the sides of your hips working, because the whole idea is that’s where your balance training is, and those are the muscles we want to tone and shape up. OK. To start with; so, Rachel, I’m going to have you go into a heel-to-toe position, and we’re gonna just apply some variables here. Each one of these is intended to make the exercise a little bit more challenging. So, again, choose the one that you feel is appropriate for you. Rachel, we’re going to start by taking our hands over our head. Now, again, it may not be much of a challenge. That’s fine. Let’s drop one arm off to the side. Now, what I would like you to do, Rachel, is lean that way. And, again, try to keep yourself really tight through here and just lean your trunk. And we can take it to the side, but we can also bring it around to the front. So, let’s bring that arm to the front and she can lean forward, she can lean backwards, she can even rotate around. So, you’ve got your choices. Now, again, if you don’t feel like that’s enough of a challenge, let’s raise the bar here. Rachel, go ahead and put a finger just about 10 inches in front of your face. And what I want you to do is simply let the finger drift upwards, but follow it with your eyes. Don’t move your head. So, we’re gonna more your hand around. What we’re doing is really confusing the eyes, because that’s where your balance is centered. So, by doing this, we’re kind of throwing off your balance centers. Now, we can add; again, Rachel’s doing the movements and she doesn’t feel challenged. We can repeat it, but now I want you to move your head with you. So tilt your head up. Because you have balance centers in your ears, too. Let’s challenge those. Still not enough? You’re gonna repeat those movements with your eyes closed. So let’s go ahead and do it now. Keeping your eyes closed. And the whole time Rachel’s doing this she’s thinking: control. Tight through her core. Tight through her glutes. This is really the area of the body we’re trying to stabilize. So, really focus on that. Remember, we want quality of movement. How long should she do this for? Again, maybe just 10 repetitions. Take a step, mix up the feet, change the different positions. I want you to get a workout where you feel, yep, there’s some muscle activation taking place there. Now, let’s ramp it up one more step. Rachel, we’re going to go onto one leg. So, we’re going to stand up on one foot and we’re just gonna start mimicking what we do when we walk. Rachel’s just going to swing her leg forward, swing the leg back, and then she’s going to let her arm naturally swing. And you notice that as the leg swings forward, the arm swings back. And so right now, we’re starting to mimic what you do every time you take a step when you’re walking. And so this is not a challenge for most of us. We can add a little bit more exercise intensity to this. I’m going to have Rachel reach down towards the floor and really reach back up here. So, again, we’re making it more dynamic. Reaching down, reaching up, and the cues that I’m looking for: Her foot stays flat. Her knee is staying aligned over that second toe. Her trunk is nice and stable. And you notice she’s not shaking. She’s keeping everything in control. She’s working the muscles through her core as well as the muscles through her hips. You notice that she drops back; she throws her butt backwards. That’s really promoting a good, effective squat movement. So, now we’re moving in the forwards-backwards plane. Let’s take it up one more notch. Rachel, we’re going to move out to the side now. You’re going to take your leg out to the side like this and move it across the body, all right? Beautiful! Just doing that motion right there, you notice her legs and arms are moving in a left-to-right motion. We can now add a little element to this. We’re gonna have Rachel, as the leg goes out, we’re going to have you drop into a little bit of a squat. So, you’re going to drop down into a squat position and come on up. Perfect. Again, you’re looking for that alignment. The foot is on the floor, her butt goes backwards, she’s trying to keep that knee nicely aligned over the middle of that foot, and her trunk is nice and stable. And then we can move into the third plane. The third plane will be where Rachel’s actually going to take a leg across the front of her body and then around the back. Now, as she does that, she’s gonna keep the arm moving in the opposite direction. So, she’s doing a movement right there. Again, she’s going to start to feel that, doing one set of 10 repetitions, she’s going to start to feel it right through these muscles around her butt. And, again, we can challenge this a little further by having to drop into a bit of a squat position and coming back out of it. Beautiful. Now, keep in mind, you can always put the foot to the floor if you’re losing your balance. I want quality of movement, not quantity. So, just remember: you’ve got a series of progressions right through here. You’ve also got an option to one set of 10 in each direction. You’re getting a lot of exercises and you’re going train balance and you’re going to firm up this area. Go and have some fun.

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