Balance is a skill, and like any other skill it can be improved with training and repetition. In order to perform well in many sports such as AFL, soccer, rugby, etc, it is vitally important that you have some degree of high level balance. If you’re trying to improve your surfing or wake boarding, then high level balance is an absolute must and one of the most important factors for successful performance. The same way we train our muscles to be stronger/bigger by isolating them using weights or specific movements in the gym, we can train our balance to be better by challenging it.
Balance is made up of three body systems:
Ever noticed why you tend to feel unsteady when you close your eyes, or more stable when you focus on something in the distance, that is because vision is one of these three body systems involved in balance.
This is the sensory feedback from our skin, muscles and joints. For very movement we make, these parts of our body send messages to the brain to suggest where we are in space and therefore allows us to adjust and maintain our balance.
This is a complex part of the human anatomy that is located in the inner ear. There are various canals that have tiny hair like structures with fluids and solid little pebbles within that are always moving as we move. The movements of these hairs, fluids and solid pebble structures indicates which direction our head is moving in relation to our body and space around and contributes to our balance.
Try these positions out and test your static balance:
30 seconds - Eyes Open/Eyes Closed
Single Leg Stance
20-30 seconds - Eyes Open/Eyes Closed
15-20 seconds - Eyes Open/Eyes Closed
If you can’t maintain your balance in these positions, then you need to do some work!
If the exercises above are too easy and you like a challenge here are some ideas for high level/ dynamic balance training:
1. Single Leg Squat with/without Dura-Disc (balance disk)
2. Hopping Squares
Standing on one leg, hop in a square - so forward, to the right, back, and to the left. If you have square tiles, hop from corner to corner both clockwise and anti-clockwise.
3. Fitball Kneeling or Standing Squats
***be careful with all of these exercises, perform on soft surfaces with no objects around. Perform at your on risk and only if confident with balance and ability to be safe during exercise***