The Value of Balance for Athletes, Seniors, and the Average Person
Taken from Chris Freytag’s article, “5 Exercises for Better Balance,” the following explains the importance of balance as it relates to athletes, seniors, and the average person.
Balance is something many of us take for granted, but everyone can benefit from improving it. Balance training exercises strengthen core muscles and improve stability, making you lighter on your feet.
Balance training can help anyone at any age. Athletes find it can make them more powerful. Seniors use it to prevent injuries from falls and maintain independence.
And fitness lovers know it helps improve workouts and everyday life. In fact, just moving around efficiently in life requires healthy postural alignment and good balance.
Static and Dynamic Balance
Balance is divided into two types: static and dynamic.
Dynamic balance: The ability to move outside the body’s base of support while maintaining posture control
Static balance: The ability to maintain the body’s center of mass within its base of support
Both types of balance are important, and both can be improved with targeted exercises.
Balance Training for Everyone
Everyone can benefit from balance training. Here's a closer look at how it can help you at different stages of life and fitness levels.
Proprioceptive training is used with athletes all the time to both rehab and prevent injuries. Simply put, proprioception is a sense of joint position. By practicing balance exercises, the athlete gains a sense of control and awareness of their joints and how they function when the body is in motion.
Think about ankles. Ankle injuries are common in athletes due to all the twisting, turning, stopping, and starting. Even the strongest ankle can be injured if the athlete hasn’t trained the neuromuscular system to react properly on a variety of surfaces.
Balance training also gives an athlete more power and force because they learn to use their center of gravity more efficiently. A stronger, more connected core helps you jump higher, throw farther, and run faster.
When a child falls they get right back up and keep moving. But when an older adult falls the consequences can be severe and even deadly. Each year, thousands of older Americans die from broken hips due to falls, and many more experience a loss of independence after a fall.
Balance training can improve stability in older people to help prevent falls and injuries. Just as athletes can train their bodies, seniors can use exercise programs and moves that focus on balance to reduce and prevent falls.
A 2013 study published in BMJ found exercise programs reduce falls that cause injuries by 37%, serious injuries by 43%, and broken bones by 61%.
For the Average Person
Let’s make this clear, balance training is for everyone. The list of benefits is long, but here are just a few.
Burns more calories by making the body work harder
Creates muscular balance in the body
Improves neuromuscular coordination by getting the brain to talk to the muscles
Teaches your body to use the core for stabilization
With all of that in mind, you can start incorporating simple balance training into your life today. A few ways to do this at home include:
If you drop your keys or wallet, reach over to pick them up on one leg with the other leg lifting straight into the air behind you and engage your abs.
Sit on a stability ball at work, school, or while watching TV.
Stand on one foot while you brush your teeth; alternate feet halfway through.
For more details, please check out Chris Freytag’s full article provided in the References section.
Freytag, C. (2020, Jun. 10). 5 Exercises for Better Balance. Verywell Fit. https://www.verywellfit.com/exercises-for-better-balance-3498203