Proprioception. A big word I wanted to throw in here to sound smart? Definitely not; this word is the difference between a functional life and deadly injury. Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe not, but let me tell you that this big word is crucial for your longevity. Proprioception, in its simplest terms, is the body’s ability to interpret and use information about your position in space. Through a complex system of environmental feedback (cues from the bottom of your feet, the relation of your inner ear to gravity, and what you see) your body senses which muscles to activate or deactivate to maintain your desired position. Another word for this? Balance. Balance (in terms of spatial awareness) is something most of us take for granted. All those years we spent NOT working our balance and making our core work have led to misalignments and imbalances in the body caused by overcompensation by favoring one side of the body. How do we prevent this? Balance training. Balance training is exercises that require you to balance (think of single leg deadlifts, lifting a weight overhead while balancing on one leg, single leg squats,, etc). Here are 3 reasons why you should be incorporating balance training into your training regime starting NOW!
- Sitting is killing your core
One of the biggest problems in Western society is how we work. Believe it or not, this is affecting our balance: SITTING…human bodies are NOT meant to sit all day! Our core turns to mush and forgets how to work, preventing our hip flexors and legs to function as they should when we want to stand or move on our own. Without addressing these issues, our bodies are in for injuries and serious issues down the road! To help build a stronger core, which in turn creates better balance, practice standing while working, get one of those awesome desks that goes over a treadmill, sit on a stability ball instead of a desk, walk and work (why have business meetings sitting if you don’t have to: Walk and talk people!); these simple changes can help build a stronger center of gravity, thus improving your balance.
- Everything you do during the day requires balance… yes everything.
Balance is needed for functional tasks we perform day to day, like climbing stairs, lifting a bag of groceries or standing from a chair. We don’t think about using balance to complete these tasks, but we would definitely think about it if we didn’t have it. This is why balance training is so crucial, and why I include it in every single class that I teach. Balance and stability are extremely vital to our overall health. THe smallest tasks each day require you to use your core and be able to balance. Practice it!
- Balance is key to longevity.
Perhaps we think of balance (or lack thereof) only being an issue for the elderly. But it isn’t just for the elderly to worry about; while falls are the number one injury of the elderly, balance is just as important to a teenager, a professional athlete, and a middle aged adult. Balance training (exercises that require you to balance; think of single leg deadlifts, lifting a weight overhead while balancing on one leg, etc) is important for all ages and ability levels. It helps build kinesthetic awareness (the ability to know where you are in space) and body control, while requiring you to use your core, asking it to stay strong to keep us safe. Balance helps the elderly man stay upright and helps the endurance athlete run harder, bike longer, or swim stronger. Through balance training, you will reap benefits like better posture, core strength, athleticism, stronger bones, better brain function, and coordination, all of which are truly beneficial as you age, meaning fewer injuries and greater stability as you age. Let’s be real: getting old sucks. Part of the aging process includes gradual loss of muscle strength, vision, sensory perception, and hearing- all things that contribute to our ability to balance! So why not use the strength and ability you have now to stay strong and keep this aging process at bay. Incorporate these exercises (or variations of these) each time your workout to keep a stronghold on your balance and age with ease.