FITNESS Balance Training is the new buzzword in the gym. It’s not only beneficial but also helps in day-to-day activities.

So, you’re not a runner. Why should you care about balance?

Well, for starters, it’s the basic skill needed in practically every sport or walk of your life. Balance training is a type of exercise which is designed to improve balance and proprioception, the sensation of knowing where the body and its joints are in space.

Regular balance training can be beneficial to people of all ages, and it can provide a wide range of benefits which make it an excellent thing to integrate into a regular workout. Most balance training exercises can be easily performed in an assortment of environments, from the home to a health club. In balance training, the goal is to increase the body’s agility and to work upon his or her centre of gravity. One of the most immediate effects of balance training is a reduction in the risk of falling, because falls are caused by a lack of balance, and someone with a good sense of proprioception will be less likely to fall.

People are also less prone to injuries caused by balancing issues, such as twisted ankles whilst getting down a flight of stairs. Working on one’s balance can help someone to move more efficiently, ensuring that energy is not wasted in ineffective movements. A runner, for example, will find that he or she runs better and is less prone to ankle injuries, and has fewer chances of falling with balance training. Older adults are encouraged to work on balance training to improve their overall health. The training can also be combined with yoga, Pilates, swimming, and other gentle forms of exercise to promote overall muscle tone and core strength. Athletes often benefit from balance training, and they may notice a significant improvement when they use balance exercises tailored to their sport.

Basic workouts

The first basic exercise is to stand on one foot for a count of 10 – 20. Repeat five to 10 times before switching to the other foot. If you are stable, you can stretch your leg out in front of you and point your toe.

The next exercise is to walk heel to toe. Walk at least 10 – 15 steps in each direction with your heels and toes touching or almost touching. Do this along with a wall at first.

Another good exercise is the balance walk. Walk in a straight line with one foot in front of the other. Lift your back foot on each step and hold it up for one second before continuing. Walk 20 steps, and then reverse.

Simple balance exercise like single leg stand can be added to any exercise schedule, or can be done while watching TV, or standing in the backyard.

Y. RAMAKRISHNA,
Sports Performance Enhancement Specialist, Sports Biomechanist