On Balance Training
Balance is the most fundamental aspect of coordinated movement. Balance means being able to hold a certain position or move in an intended manner while coordinating shifts in one’s center of gravity and base of support consciously or unconsciously. Stimuli from canals in the inner ear, visual cues, and proprioception (awareness of body positioning) provide feedback. Adjustments for balance are anticipations and reactions to momentum, environmental changes, and gravity.
Centering on the needs and comfort of the client, all balance exercises in Active Living Fitness Coaching are done within easy reach of the back of a sturdy chair for a reassuring sense of security. Clients can reach and steady themselves at any time. Balance improves in a calm, relaxed, and enjoyable way, with encouragement and support. Clients choose balance exercises at the level of progression that they are comfortable trying.
Progression involves four variables, as BOSU Fitness, the makers of the BOSU ball, have distinguished what they term the ‘Four Balance Challenge Variables’ of balance training:
1. Contact Points- places where the torso or limbs are in contact with a surface that itself is on the ground or stacked upon objects on the ground. The fewer contact points you have and the closer they are to each other, the greater the challenge. For example, standing on one foot is more challenging than on both feet. Resting a hand on a chair back (more support) while standing with feet together (more challenge) are accommodations of contact points.
2. Movement- Depth, speed, and reach. More time, more control, variance of position, weight or force changes more distant from one’s center, can increase a challenge. Examples: the depth of a squat, the speed of a side step, holding an object out from the body, etc.
3. Visual Affect- Visual tracking. The challenge can be increased by tracking a movement while balancing. For example, tracking one’s fingertips while moving an arm to the side or behind. In this way, clients can develop their sense of their bodies in space with less reliance on visual cues such as looking at the floor or a corner of the room.
4. External Stimuli. Maintaining balance while addressing changing environmental conditions- For example: Tossing and catching a ball, or stepping up or down from a mat or step.
As with strength training, there are progressions for practice. Exercises can help a trainee’s body to more efficiently interpret stimuli and preserve or improve his or her sense of balance. How far can practice take you? Well, remember that circus tightrope performers didn’t get there overnight!
If you have any fitness questions, please feel free to contact me at 703-397-6687 or firstname.lastname@example.org.