Improving your balance
While focusing on balance (or the lack thereof) is often associated with aging and fall prevention, improving your balance and stability should be a key part of any exercise regimen.
Many exercise classes incorporate balance activities into their routine, whether you realize it or not. Athletes in particular often focus on balance and stability as it can help to improve both coordination and performance, while reducing the risk for injury.
Indo Board, a Physiquality partner product, is one way to exercise the body’s balance control systems. The board can be used to develop balance, coordination and increased leg strength while enhancing your core fitness. It also improves motor skills, making the Indo Board a great cross-training tool for a variety of sports, from extreme board sports to all mainstream sports. Keeping the board from touching the ground for extended rides is both the goal and the challenge.
“Indo Board Balance Trainers provide a progression from the linear and lateral movements of other traditional stationary balance boards, working your entire body,” points out Hunter Joslin, a lifelong surfer and the creator of the Indo Board. The movement of the board on either the roller or the IndoFLO® Balance Cushion creates a “greater challenge to the proprioreceptors of the activated muscles, thus intensifying the therapeutic effects,” he adds.
The Indo Board can be used to improve functional balance, including by physical therapists in a rehabilitation setting, or to enhance sports-specific workouts by challenging balance while strengthening other muscles, like in the above video.
Plyometrics is another popular workout that incorporates balance training. More simply known as “jump training,” plyometric exercises are high-intensity, high-velocity resistance exercises that are designed to increase muscular power and coordination.
The purpose of plyometric exercise is to increase the power of subsequent movements by using both the natural elastic components of muscles and tendons and the stretch reflex. As many of the lower body exercises involve jumping, they will naturally improve your balance and stability, while also strengthening the lower body.
Keep in mind that as the difficulty of these exercises increases, if you’re not doing them in a class, be sure to work with a physical therapist that can watch your form to see that you’re not doing anything that can hurt your muscles or joints.
With its sequences of standing poses, yoga is another great way to improve balance and stability (while also improving your flexibility). And you don’t have to train for years to see results — a 2012 study found that stroke survivors who did yoga twice a week for eight weeks improved their balance by 15% compared to before the program. Poses on both feet like chair pose and warrior 1 and 2 can strengthen and prepare you for one-legged poses like tree pose and half-moon pose. (Mastered those? Try balancing on your hands in crow or firefly.)
For further reading, look through our selection of articles on sports and fitness, in addition to the below links:
Brady, Krissy. 7 easy yoga poses to improve your balance. OrganicAuthority.com, March 17, 2014.
Savoie, Keely. Can yoga fix… everything? Prevention, July 2012.
Arm balances. Yoga Journal.
The Indo Board Channel. YouTube.
Anderson, Jason. Balance training 101. SparkPeople.com.