It's all about balance

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Balancing on roller

Now all i need to do is learn how to juggle and i'll be ready to join the circus.

Challenge your stabilising muscles today.

Co-ordination and balance is something we take for granted. Which is all well and good, when we were young and had no fear of falling over. However, if you have ever fallen over as an adult, you will remember being on the ground wondering how on earth you got there. The disbelief that you did not ‘right’ yourself in time, prior to the fall, is quite a shocking experience, let alone a painful one.

Imagine if you will, a 10-year-old kid running in an open field that has tree roots, pot holes and uneven tufts of grass. They most likely wouldn’t even be watching where their feet land. The odds are, these kids do not fall over. Whereas, if you can now imagine yourself, walking on a footpath towards your car and your arms are loaded with bags so that you can’t see your feet. You step on a large pebble or the side-blade of your foot falls into a crack in the path. Could you right yourself? More often than not, we would fall over and blow out our knees, hips or wrists (or all of the above!)

Everything we do daily relies on our balance. Even sitting down requires balance. And lot of physical training programmes tend to neglect this important exercise.

Polestar Pilates classes spend some time focussed on balance in every class. It has been shown that a tailored exercise programme can reduce falls by as much as 54%, specifically exercises that challenge balance.[1]

With balance comes co-ordination. In order to function effectively, our bodies need both static and dynamic balance. Coordination is a complex skill and requires good balance alongside strength and agility. Coordination allows for smooth and efficient movement patterns to complete a task. Pilates exercises increase trunk and core muscular strength and control which increase stability and balance.

There is always a progression you can make while trying to balance. The more you feel ‘tippy’ the more your stabilising muscles need to engage so that you can correct yourself. This is not just in your feet, ankles and lower leg. These stabilising muscles are also in your core abdominals.

A couple of tips to increase your balance and strength include reducing your risk of falls are:

Please note: it is best to stand near a wall to reach out for stability if you feel you may fall.

  • Stand on one foot. It sounds simple but you will find that the foot you choose to stand on is the one that you have the most faith in. Now try the other foot.
    • Ways to increase the challenge are: 
      • Squat on standing leg
      • Close your eyes while balancing on one foot
      • Relive (lift your heel off the ground and stand on your toes on one foot)
      • Stand on one leg and tilt your entire trunk forward and the opposite leg to the standing leg can go behind you
    • Balance on a roller
      • To increase the challenge you can:   
      • Squat on the roller
      • Stand on one foot on the roller
      • ‘Walk’ the roller forward.

The caveat is, as always, be safe and ensure you do not hurt yourself. Only try to do what you can and build up to the challenges. Be kind to your feet. We balance on them every single day.

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[1] http://www.pilatesplusphysio.co.uk/2015/11/pilates-for-balance-and-coordination/