Today’s post is being shared from my friend Ali’s blog, Ali Goes The Distance. Ali is a runner, blogger, and personal trainer.
Hi, I’m Ali!
I’ve been learning A LOT of different things at my internship since starting it three weeks ago! It’s very hands-on and I’m definitely being challenging to think outside the box. That’s the whole point of an internship, right? One of the key components that is used a lot with the clients I work with at my internship is balance.
Not the balance like life balance…lol, although that IS a work in progress too, I talking coordination, agility, posture, body awareness, etc. It’s all important. For a while, I was working on it diligently with myself and my clients. Then I kinda forgot about it…oops. It can be one of those things that can easily be forgotten if you’re not actively working on it.
Balance was the one thing that I think got stale for me which is a reason it fell off my fitness routines. I’ve now been reintroducted to it and the various ways you can challenge it with equipment, eyes open vs. closed, kneeling vs. standing, and no equipment vs. foam padding or a bosu. The possibilities are endless. I’ve taken time to add it to my workouts and in my HEAT class through plyometric moves such as lateral bounds, lunges + single leg skips, or simply balancing one leg for as long as possible.
Unfortunately, we don’t know the level of our balance skills until its gone, like when we fall, for example. Just like working out heart for cardio and increasing strength with resistance training, we can lose balance too. Particularly as we age, it is another aspect of fitness that is lost after the age of twenty five.
So besides the fact that balance is forgotten, I figured I’d share a post on how to ADD it back into your routine to gain the benefits of improving balance. What’s so great about balance is that it doesn’t have to involve being sweaty. Weird saying I know. It doesn’t necessarily involve a high heart either. I like adding it into the end of a workout to calm the mind and ease into a cool-down. Before bed or part of a weekend fitness routine works too. I like to think that balance works body-awareness, also known as proprioception. You train your mind and body at the same time. If you participate in yoga regularly, balance poses are more then likely incorporated into the practice. Adding tree pose or pigeon pose counts when not on the mat counts too!
Do these three exercises without shoes. It gives you a sense of awareness and less support as soon as you step out of your shoes…what you want! I do two sets each side with five to eight reps each. Work up to three sets of ten or more reps or until you can easily add a challenge. Of course, try not to hold to anything! Having something or someone nearby if you do need the extra support is okay. Soon you’ll learn to not need it.
Try these three balance exercises you can do anywhere and without equipment to work your balance:
- Tightrope walk– Stepping heal to toe forward and repeating backward.
- Easy: Walk two steps forward and two steps backward
- Medium: Walk three-five steps forward and backward
- Hard: Walk three-fives steps forward and backward with eyes closed
- Three Point Star–
- Easy: Tap your toe to the ground in the front, side, and back of you.
- Medium: Release toe from ground and repeat the three points
- Hard: Keep toe off the ground and repeat the three points with eyes closed
- Finger Glance– Supporting yourself on one leg, extend opposite leg out in front. Bend elbows at the ninety degrees and hold out in front of you. Raise one finger on each hand. The higher you lift your leg out in front, the harder it is.
- Easy: One leg is supporting. Toe of opposite foot is on ground in front. Glance back and forth at fingers.
- Medium: One leg is supporting. Toe of opposite foot is off ground a half inch to inch off ground. Glance back and forth at fingers.
- Hard: One leg is supporting. Toe of opposite foot is off ground one to two inches. Glance back and forth at fingers.
Adding these exercises to your fitness routine regularly will over time help enhance your balance. Realizing this can also help my running, is one reason I’ve been incorporating it into my program. Although this can help train your mind, this is great neurologically and muscularly too. Just because we’re not “old” doesn’t mean we have to fall and hurt ourselves to realize balance training NOW is important. With these simple exercises you can improve sooner then later.