- Better balance results in better movement.
- Integrating balance training into your existing program.
- Unstable surface training is NOT necessarily balance training.
- Better balance results in better movement.
Today we’re moving onto part two of our balance training series. Last week we looked at some very specific exercise progressions. Where we were keeping the head and neck still as we were challenging the balance in different ways. This week we’re going to move into some different exercises that for many people, are much more difficult because we’re going to be including head and neck movement along with everything else that we were working on previously.
Now, balance training as I mentioned in the first video, is relatively simple, but incredibly important for increasing athleticism, and improving safety in the real world. What we found in working with literally thousands of clients around the world, is that this version we’re about to go through, is often much more challenging for anyone that has had traumatic brain injury, a mild concussion, eye injury, ear injuries, or neck injuries. If you’ve had whiplash injury, one of the things that we often see in the literature is that there’s a compromise in balance. Sometimes that can be from stuff in the head and neck, other times it can be because the head and neck information has never been reintegrated with the body through an appropriate training regiment.
This particular set of exercises, while seemingly simple, can be very, very challenging, so don’t get frustrated. Now with all that said, one of the big rules I want you to follow as you’re doing this particular balance progression, because we’re going to be moving the head, your eyes are going to be closed sometimes depending on your level of skill, be safe. Don’t try this around metal things with nice hard edges on them. Look at your training environment, make sure that if you lose your balance, you’re not going to run into anything that’s going to injure you. That’s very, very important to me.
Our basic progressions going to be similar to last week. If you haven’t watched last weeks video, please go do that. What I’m going to do is I’m going to give you some different body positions, and ideas about how to train. What we’re going to be looking at first is our foot position, our stance. If you have trouble with head and neck motion making you dizzy, or making you feel uncomfortable, you’re going to begin in a wide base stance, probably with knees bent. The most athletic and most balanced of all the positions.
From here, you would go to knees straight. You are then going to move into a neutral stance. This is the progression of training that you will follow, depending on how challenging all these are for you. In the neutral position I could be knees bent. Again, a little safer feeling, knees straight. I can then go into what we call our feet together position. Again, knees bent, knees straight. Staggard stance, knees bent, knees straight, on each side. Then finally, single leg positioning, with the stance leg. Knee bent, and knees straight. We have different stance widths or positions, we have stance legs that are bent, which is easier. Or straight, which is often harder. All right, so those are your different stance configurations.
The next thing we’re going to talk about is what we’re going to do with our head and neck. Whenever you’re doing balance training for the real world, what we’re going to tell you is that you’re going to want to work on turning the head right and left, tilting the lead right and left, flexing and extending the head, so extending, and flexing. All right? We have rotations, lateral flections, flections in extensions, right? Those are going to be basic head motions that we’re going to now incorporate in the different stance positions.
Our basic rule in balance training is to find a safe but challenging position, and safe but challenging movement. The way that you start to work through this, is if you’re kind of a normal athletic person, you probably can begin with your feet together, or in a staggard stance. In this position what you’re going to do is looking ahead, quickly turning your head to one side with your eyes open, and see how that effects your balance. If you have to step out, that’s okay. That’s called training. You don’t have to get it right. If you get it right all the time, it’s probably not hard enough. Then come back to neutral, turn the opposite direction. Again, see what happens with your body. Tilt your head, tilt your head, and in each of these positions I want you to hold for 15 to 30 seconds. That’s the real key here, because if I just go back and forth and up and down, it’s challenging, but I want you to build some endurance in these positions as well.
Again, rotate each direction, tilt each direction. Look up at the ceiling, look down at the floor. Again, 15 to 30 seconds in each position. If that’s too easy for you, then you’re going to repeat the same thing in the one leg position. You can be, again, knees bent, probably a little easier, or knees straight. Once you’ve worked your way through that progression on both feet, you would then repeat the whole process with your eyes closed. This is where it starts to get really interesting. You’ll see lots of people, they get to the staggard stance, they close their eyes, they fall over. They train that for a little while to get better at it. They come to this staggard stance, they bend their knees and close their eyes, turn their head right, and they fall over. Then they turn their head left, and they fall over. That’s fine.
As long as you’re not hurting yourself, if you have to step out and catch yourself, that’s called training. You’re building strength, you’re building body awareness, and that’s really what we’re after. If you can go through eyes closed, staggard stance, all the different head motions and do fine, you then want to progress into the single leg stance version where you’re doing this eyes closed, head up to the ceiling, down to the floor, right and left, working through that different progression.
As I mentioned last week, if you look at the research, usually seven to 10 minutes per week, or seven to 10 minutes three times per week, excuse me. Balance training is significant enough work for your brain to start to adapt very, very quickly. You usually see really significant improvements in your balancing ability in four to six weeks of work. These are our two basic categories of balance skills, head still, and then head neck and motion. Remember that we’ve given you some different criteria. Your stance, your knee position, eyes open or eyes closed. With this you have a nice menu of different balance activities that you can use to treat your balance basically anywhere. You can do it at work, you can do it at home. As you sort through this remember your safe but challenging positions is where you’re going to start, and then you’ll work to progressively more difficult versions from there.
I know that if you work with this next four to six weeks, you’re going to see significant improvements throughout your life as a result of your improved balance. If you have any questions about this, let us know. Otherwise, good luck.