Balance exercises are specific activities that predominantly help to build lower limb muscle strength, as well as improve your vestibular system, the organ associated with balance perception.
Your brain, muscles, and bones all work together to maintain your body’s balance and keep you from falling. They all rely on proprioception and kinaesthetic awareness. Proprioception refers to a sense of joint position or ‘body awareness’. Proprioception training is highly common in rehabilitation of injured athletes, but it is also very important in the use of injury prevention for the average person. Even a strong ankle can sprain when running on uneven ground – if the runner hasn’t trained the neuromuscular system to react appropriately. Slight deviations in terrain require slight adjustments of balance to avoid injury. In balance exercises or training, the three organ systems are focused to provide a complete integrative exercise program. Often strength is initially targeted with exercises and later modified to incorporate proprioception and body awareness activities.
Nature of exercises
Most standard exercises can be modified to incorporate a balance element by using certain tools or techniques. These may include gym equipment such as a Bosu ball, rubber disk or the larger exercise ball. All these tools make an unstable base of support for an exercise, therefore requiring a greater effort to be performed. Examples of exercises we use at Optimum include single or double-leg squats/ lunges on the Bosu ball, or for the upper body, push-ups on the Bosu. Simply doing a chest press on the ball instead of the bench, utilises a balance element. As with most exercise programs, progressively overloading your exercise regime is important for progress. Balance training is no exception. Exercises should be progressively modified to increase difficulty and demand more effort. Please ask your Exercise Physiologist how this can be achieved within your exercise program.
At Optimum, we use balance and stability exercises with all of our clients, since it has been proven that this training helps reduce the risk of injury and provide an improved quality of life. Functional exercises strengthen the muscles used to perform daily tasks, and also help reduce the risk of falls or injury. Most of our daily tasks, such as hanging out washing, sweeping, or mowing lawn require several muscle groups working in conjunction, allowing us to perform movements such as twisting, turning, balancing and stretching. The more efficiently they work together, the less the likelihood that daily tasks will result in injury.