Life is all about balancing, and I’m not talking about your checkbook. Every day, you work to maintain a balance between work, play and rest. On most days, you do well. On other days, though, everything collides. So you pick up the pieces and you get back into the balancing act.
There’s another kind of balance, though, that most of us forget to practice until it’s too late. I’m talking about the kind of balancing that you do when you stand on one leg. Or when you’re on the tennis court and you have to change your stance in mid-flight. Or when you’re walking to your car and you happen to step on a piece of ice.
Balance is crucial in all of these cases, which is why it is so important to add balance training to your exercise program. In fact, with regular work, you can improve your balance, which will enhance your function in daily activities and your performance in different sports.
“Training for balance improves daily functioning, sport performance and strength training,” writes John Blievernicht, M.A., president of Sports Health C.A.R.E. Inc. in Chicago. (ACE Certified News, October/November 1997). “A person who runs, or even just walks, while out of balance, compromises their speed, endurance and control.”
Everything you do requires balance, says Deborah Ellison, PT, a physical therapist and founder of the Advanced Personal Training Institute in San Diego, Calif. “Balance is simply keeping your center of gravity within your base of support,” she says. “If you know where your center is – and that’s your body unconsciously knowing where – then you’re more grounded physically and mentally.”
Without balance, you become apprehensive about moving and you limit your movements. Watch elderly people, for example, who have lost their sense of balance. You’ll see them hesitate as they walk up stairs or bend over to pick something off the floor. In the end, they carry themselves lower to the ground for good reason. “To readjust your center of gravity,” Ellison says, “you start holding yourself closer to the ground.”
In fact, having good balance affects your mental state as well as your performance in physical activities. “When you’re balanced, you’re confident and that carries into your emotional interactions,” she says. “You exhibit a calmness and focus that you might not have if you were off balance.”
Balance is also crucial in sports like snowboarding, downhill skiing, surfing, tennis, basketball and baseball click to continue