Balance is one of the least appreciated physical skills we have and we take it for granted. We rarely devote time and energy to include in our training exercises designed to keep balance sharp and conditioned – we expect it to always function properly. In fact, when we move, walk, play sports – if we lose our balance we feel almost surprised, like Whoa!!? How did that happen!??
With time, we gradually lose muscle strength, vision and sensory perception, which are all factors that contribute to our ability to balance effectively and safely.“ Our body is conditioned to lose what we don’t regularly use and practice” S. Baxter, PT. And balance is no different. We should challenge ourselves to maintain and work on our physical balance regularly.
My training and my programs have always revolved – heavily – around the balance component: to kick, we must stand on one leg; to develop the strength to deliver a powerful lower body strike, we must constantly practice and challenge our balance. All the years of martial arts training, for myself and for everyone who has done POWERSTRIKE Kickboxing, Impact and Bodystrikes, have meant years of continuous drilling and sharpening the skill of balance. And that’s a beautiful thing.
However, as time goes by, regardless of the type of sports or training we have done in the past, and even do presently, we should focus even more on balance training.I like to divide balance training into 2 main categories: basic and advanced.For the basic exercises think of performing tasks while standing on one leg, starting from breathing, to brushing your teeth (if you are at home – everything counts!), kicking slowly, moving your arms while standing on one leg, doing lunges, or even touching your toes with your eyes closed… These are all exercises that you can do just with your body and pretty much anywhere and anytime.
If you are already someone who exercises pretty regularly, I suggest adding resistance to balance training. This is the more advance level of balance training. Think shoulders, biceps and triceps exercises done standing on one leg. No need to get fancy here. You are strengthening your upper body with basic movements, like presses, curls, raises, extensions etc., while standing on one leg: challenging your stability = stronger balance. Also, part of the more advanced exercises are lower body strengthening exercises done on one leg, like one leg squat or deadlift, all kinds of split squats and most rotational and plyometrics exercises as well.
There’s a huge variety of exercises and movements that will help us keep our balance strong – don’t shy away from them. And remember to be patient with yourself: working on balance can be a little frustrating at times, but the great part about it is the more you work at it, the better it gets.