The Importance of Balance Training

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by Casey McIlvaine

desk-exercises-300x199With obesity at an all time high, it is evident that the American population spends less time partaking in physical activities than ever before. A large majority of the average American’s day is spent sitting, whether at work, watching television, or driving. Therefore, our bodies quickly adapt to these idle environments. This lack of physical activity creates a higher risk of injury, because our nervous system may have a difficult time balancing our structure in an active and unstable environment. Our balance system is made up of all of the senses in your body that inform you on how you are moving, Your brain then puts this information together, in order to control the movement of your muscles. Maintaining a healthy balance systems will help your not only look and feel good, but also help you move freely with confidence, energy and strength.

 

Balance is needed for any activity, whether you are walking up a flight of steps or rollerblading. For this reason, incorporating balance training into your workout routine is beneficial to help maintain the proper movement with minimal stress on our structures. Adding balance training to your workout routines challenges your body’s ability to be stabilized and control the center of our gravity outside of your base of support. Balancing in motion becomes an extremely dynamic activity, in order to maintain our center with a changing base of support. Our kinetic chain (muscular, nervous and skeletal systems) is extremely adaptable. Therefore, if our bodies are never exposed to unstable conditions, our kinetic chains will not be able to respond properly when exposed to environments of instability.

Balance Training for Weight Loss and Toning.

Balance training burns a greater amount of calories for an exerciser because it requires more muscles to be engaged. Not only does balance training burn calories by engaging muscles, it also helps shape and define those engaged muscle by forcing them to work overtime to keep you from falling, Most often the muscle groups balance training focuses on our glutes and thighs, which tend to be an area of concern for many exercisers. The glutes are an essential element for keeping an exerciser safely standing on one leg, while the nervous system fires other muscle groups, for example adductors, hamstrings and quads. Balance training provides you with a lot of bang for your buck.

Balance Training for Hypertrophy

Incorporating balance training within your weight training routine will have a positive effect on increasing hypertrophy. Balance training helps assist in recruiting the muscles, especially of the lower extremities, and getting them to work together. In order for a muscle to grow to it’s maximum, it requires time under tension, an increase in volume, proper nutritional intake, load, muscle fiber recruitment and the appropriate amount of rest. However, if your nervous system is not properly function with your muscle, it will not be able to transmit the maximal amount of muscle fibers, in turn causing a limitation to hypertrophy.

Balance Training to Improve Your Health

            The first steps to maintaining a health lifestyle are to keep moving and stay free of injuries. Many common lower-extremity injuries can be avoided through balance training, which teaches your nervous system to recruit the correct muscles in the proper synergies to help avoid twisting your ankle, ACL tears or shin splints. Adding balance training to your workout routines help increase movement efficiency and can prevent injuries.

 

How to Balance Train

Single Leg Stance

Standing with your legs hip-width apart, keeping your legs straight and unlocked, raise your left leg straight behind you about a foot off of the ground and hold for 15- 30 seconds. Repeat on your other leg. For added support, place your hands onto a chair. For an added challenge, hold your arms parallel in front of you.

PadmasanaWeight Shifts

Standing with your legs hip-width apart, keeping your legs straight and unlocked, raise your left leg out to your side, shift all your weight to one side of your body. Hold for 15-30 seconds before returning to center. Repeat on your other leg.

Yoga

Yoga is a great way for anyone, from beginners to advanced athletes, to work on increasing their balance through progressive poses.

 

Integrating balance training into your workout routine is beneficial on many levels. Not only does it help burn extra calories, but also developing a strong sense of balance will help you avoid injuries or recover from injuries at a faster rate. When we maintain a healthy balance system, we feel better about ourselves as well as receive energy and strength.

 

If you enjoyed this article and are not yet a personal trainer, but are interested in the profession then click here to learn how you can become a personal trainer with NPTI.

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