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Episode 46: Real Balance Training

Video Highlights

- Falls are a leading cause of death for both young and old.
- Discover the right way to train balance, just 20 to 30 seconds at a time.
- Use the Bruce Lee method for discovering opportunities to train.

Hi everybody.  Dr. Cobb back with you.

Today we’re going to talk about balance.

I got a question recently from someone that had been on the web and they said, “You know, I ran across this website from the World Health Organization and it said that falls are the second leading cause of death worldwide.” And I said, “Yeah, that’s true and it’s actually been true for a long time.”

As people that stand upright, whenever we fall over and hit the ground, bad things can happen.  Falls actually are one of the leading causes of death.  They’re also the leading cause of traumatic brain injury worldwide and they injure not just older people but younger people as well.  So the question I actually got was, “If that’s the case, what can we do about it?”

Z-Health has always been about three systems of the body.  The eyes (Visual System), the inner ear (Vestibular System), and then the rest of the body, the muscles and tendons, etc (Proprioceptive System).  The inner ear particularly and the eyes, are super important in maintaining your balance.  Now with that said, we actually have a product coming out.  There have been rumors.  It’s coming out pretty soon, called The Balance Gym, and it’s a lot like The Vision Gym.  It’s a systematic progression to help people improve their balance from wherever they’re at to really an elite level.

But what I thought I would do in today’s Blog because I got this question, is give you a couple of starter ideas on how you can begin working to improve your balance immediately. So the first thing we’ll work on is just basic strength and understanding of balance.

What I’d like you to do wherever you’re at, standing close to a wall so that you can be safe, and I want you to just try to stand on one foot.  Now you can’t see that I’m standing on one foot right now but I am.  And the whole idea here is test yourself and see how long you can maintain that position.  Ideally with your eyes open, you should be able to stand there as long as you want without falling over. Now that will not be the case for a lot of people so that’s why you need to stand by a wall so that you can do this carefully.

You want to test it on both sides and what you often find is that one foot has a lot more stability than the other and that automatically gives you something that you can do every day.  When you get up for a break, get up from watching the TV, you’re on a break from the office, take 30 seconds and try working on that foot or that leg that seems to have less balance skill than the other.  So that will be number one.

Number two, I want you to also try balancing, not just with your knees straight, but with your knees bent, again on one leg.  What you’ll often times find is that straightening versus bending the knee increases the challenge in one position or the other and that’s another thing that you can do.  Now, once you’ve done that and are starting to build some better symmetry in your balance side-to-side, the next thing I’m going to recommend is that you begin making it more challenging by adding in another variation which is head movement.

Now a lot of people think that to increase and improve their balance they need to stand on a foam cushion or something that moves under the feet.  But what we oftentimes see is that when people do that they get really tight in their upper back and neck and keep their head still.  The fact is that the apparatus in our inner ear that is designed to help us maintain balance also responds a lot to head movement.  So if you really want to build better balance for the real world, not only do we need to work on one foot, we also need to add some head movements into it.

So the things I’m going to recommend right now are just think, yes, yes, no, no.  Right?  So if you think about rotating the head back and forth, right and left and going up and down but now, standing close to a wall, standing on one foot, picking a target in front of you and going through head motions, that actually intensifies the balance challenges not only for the body but for the inner ear as well.

You need to do that on both sides.  And again, we’re not saying that you have to do this for 30 minutes.  We’re saying do it 20 seconds at a time or 30 seconds at a time.

These can be remarkably effective in priming your body to have better balance that you’ll carry over, not only with your daily life but your time in the gym, sporting activities, etc.  Now, with all that said, I want to mention one more thing about balance.  Ah, as you start to work through this, look for daily challenges for your balance as well.

Years and years and  years ago when I was a kid, I was reading a book by Bruce Lee.  It was all about Bruce Lee’s training methods.  You know, the guy was a martial artist and I wanted to know how Bruce Lee trained and I can still remember he said, “You know, whenever possible, you’re putting your socks on in the morning, stand on one foot.”  And it’s just simple silly little things like that that are a constant reminder to me that I can work my balance literally throughout the day every day.  And research shows us that by training it, we can improve it.

So, there’s some basic thoughts for you on improving your balance.  It has huge ramifications, ah, not only for injury prevention but also performance.

So if you have any questions about this, let us know, ah, and also give me some feedback on how you’re enjoying these more practical Blogs because I love movement.  I love teaching exercise and if you’re finding these helpful, I’d enjoy hearing about it.

Thanks.

Have a great week.

 

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