Body Talk for Better Balance

Body Talk for Better Balance

Dynamic Movement is Body Talk for Better Balance Balance is best trained by speaking to the body in a language it understands.  Andrea Wasylow, PT explains:  “Balance requires the ability of the neurological system to successfully receive information, process that information, and then convey an appropriate motor plan for task completion – all while controlling the center of mass against gravity.” If someone gave me instructions in a language other than English, I’d be unable to follow.  The same is true when talking to the body.  To improve balance, you must feed information to the proprioceptors, that’s the body’s sensory system, in a language it can understand.   Wasylow explains, “Though there is a small amount of information generated to the proprioceptive system in a static position, it is motion that truly ‘turns on’ and feeds these systems the information required for function”. Sensing Information from Movement We depend most heavily on the visual system for information about body position and where the joints are relative to one another over the base of support.  In the absence of vision, the proprioceptors are the primary source of sensory information. Just like we use multiple senses of sight, smell and taste to deliver the complete taste profile of food, the proprioceptors sense information in a variety of ways to help with balance.  They gather information in response to changes in tension within the joint capsule and muscle fibers; compression forces; and changes to speed and velocity.  Practically speaking, you can add a balance enhancing component to any exercise by talking to the proprioceptors in their language.     Use changes in direction     Incorporate... read more
Balance Training in 6 Directions

Balance Training in 6 Directions

Balance Training in 6-Directions for Better Results Have you seen the V8 commercial where the personal trainer asks the client if they ate their vegetables today? Answering “no”, the client is knocked on the forehead as if to say “duh”. I had this kind of an “ah-ha” moment with a client as we evaluated her balance training program. It went like this: A healthy and fit woman in her early 50’s came into the gym for her weight workout. She happened to mention how poor her balance was – “look watch,” she invited as she stood on one leg, lasting no more than 2 seconds. Concerned about her declining balance, she always included balancing on one leg in her routine. No improvement was made. So basically she was telling me that she repeatedly tried the same exercise, saw no progress, but continued with hopes of better balance. I invited her to try something different. Balance Training in 6-Directions Balance exercises come in thousands of different varieties. Since the gym member was familiar with single leg balance, I used it as the basis for this exercise progression. Exercise #1 – Pivot (for mobility) Start position: Stand on one leg, holding a wall or railing with one hand Action: Step the other leg in 6 directions Front and back (5-10x) Right and left (5-10x) Right and left rotation (5-10x)               Exercise #2 – Leg Swing (for stability) Start Position: Stand on one leg, holding a wall or railing with one hand Movement: Swing the suspended leg in the same 6 directions as exercise #1.    ... read more
Exercises for Better Balance

Exercises for Better Balance

DID YOU KNOW water currents increase core activity? Why is this important, and how can you use this information to get better results from your training? A stronger core can mean no more back pain, improved posture and even better balance. Thanks to our reader, Diana H., for posing this question to our blog request page. “I have a client that I train to improve balance in the water.  I use the Speedo step for single leg squats, leg extensions, knee lifts and hamstring curls.  I also use a resistance band for walking squats.  What other exercises can I include to improve strength on her weak side and improve balance?” First off, great thinking to include the use of a step to increase the gravitational load while doing the strength exercises. Traveling is another great technique that takes advantage of buoyancy’s support while training gait. To expand this training, lets first take a look at what is balance to help develop a plan and guide exercise selection. What is Balance? In an article called Balance in Motion, written by physical therapist, Andrea Wasylow, she explains: “Balance is dynamic and three-dimensional. It is our body’s ability to integrate the information from all of our body systems (visual, vestibular and proprioceptive) and use that information to displace our center of gravity.  The systems must then decelerate that motion and either bring the body back or more likely, move in a completely different direction.  Though there is a minimal amount of information generated to those systems in a static position, it is motion that truly turns on and feeds the body information required.” To summarize her... read more