Practical Balance Training Part 1

Today we’re going to start a quick, two
part series on balance training in the real world. One of the things I love to talk a lot about
is balance training. Now, when it comes to balance, there are tons
of ways to improve balance. One of the things that you have to think about
is your eyes. You have to think about the inner ear. There’s a lot of different things that can
manifest with balance problems, but one of the things that we do know is that better
balance equals better movement for most people. So I’m going to go through with you over
the next two weeks some simple ideas about how to add balance training into your regiment,
without maybe even knowing what’s going on with your eyes or inner ear. These are just some well-researched methods
that we have looked at, that can help improve your balance, like I said, in the real world. Now what we’re going to do, first of all,
is we’re going to work on the earth. I don’t want you standing on a foam cushion,
a BOSU ball, or anything else right now, because in general we don’t advocate doing a lot
of unstable surface work, except in very specific conditions. Most of us operate on gym floors and grass
and corporate office floors, none of which are moving underneath us. So in order to train our brain appropriately
to maintain good balance, we want to make sure that we’re actually training on that
surface. The second thing I would recommend, I’m
not doing it in this video, because it’s not part of my uniform, but what I would recommend
is to take your shoes and socks off. Because one of the things that we also have
learned is that when people do balance work with shoes on, they often are getting either
good or perhaps bad input from the shoe itself, which can alter your overall balance ability. Now, obviously if you spend all day in your
shoes, from a basic philological perspective, that means you should also periodically train
balance in shoes as well, because that’s how you live. So it’s also okay to start these in your
shoes, but at some point, work barefoot. It will cause the musculature, and particularly,
the neural innovations of the feet to up-regulate, which is what we’re looking for. Now, when it comes to balance training, we’re
going to start off and look at two different versions. Today’s version, we’re going to be keeping
the head still, while the body is simply being challenged. When I have people begin balance training,
one of the things I focus on is what we call a safe, but challenging stance. So if you have very compromised balance, you’re
probably going to start off your balance training keeping your feet really, really wide, and
knees slightly bent, as if you were in a little bit of an athletic stance or afraid of falling. Most of us, however, can begin our balance
training with our feet either in a neutral stance, very close together, which is more
challenging, or in a staggered stance, one foot directly in front of the other. This is much more challenging for most people. Now, in general, what I have people do is
go through 15 second holds. So you go here. Your feet are together. You stand here for 15 seconds. Hopefully you are able to do that without
excessive swaying. If that’s a problem for you, you can back
off into this more neutral stance, and then we’ll add some eyes closed variations in
a moment to make it more challenging. But let’s say that we are beginning, most
of us either here or in the staggered stance. Begin by holding this position for 15 seconds,
and just pay attention to what happens in your body, whether or not your feet are moving
a lot, whether you’re wobbling a lot, and then you want to switch positions. All right, now if the staggered stance is
super easy for you with your eyes open, then you can go to a single leg stance. All right, so our basic stances for balance
training are wide if you are compromised, neutral if you’re new to balance, feet together,
staggered, or one leg. All right, and basically, like I said, what
I want you to do is find a position that is most challenging for you with your eyes open,
and simple beginnings of balance training is just holding these positions for 30 seconds. So let’s say I’m going to work on a single
leg balance on my right foot for 30 seconds. The next variation with these is to do it
both knee locked in full extension and knee bent. so notice that bent knee versus locked knee
may feel quite different. Again, you start off finding something that’s
a little bit challenging, maybe a single leg, knee bent. Hold that for 30 seconds. Now, if you are athletic, or you’ve been
moving for any period of time, you have good balance with your eyes open, all of these
are probably really easy. So 30 seconds here, 30 seconds here, it doesn’t
really matter. So version two then is to do all this with
eyes closed. So you go back to your same progression, eyes
closed, feet together. How much am I wobbling? Put one foot in front of the other, staggard
stance. Hold your eyes, or eyes closed. Can you hold that for 15 seconds to 30 seconds? Off to the side, close your eyes. Can you hold that for 15 to 30. If that’s okay, then you go to the single
leg, eyes closed. Work your way up to 15 to 30 seconds of each
of those different positions, again looking for something that’s challenging. Now the next evolution of this, like I said
in this particular version, we’re keeping the head still. What we’re going to now add is some, what’s
called perturbation from the outside. For this, you’re going to need a band. This is a really, really thin little exercise
band, tied off. But what you’ll begin is you’ll work through
the same series this way. So let’s imagine that I’m fairly stable,
and what I found with my eyes closed was that the staggered stance was challenging for me. The way that I’m going to add the band to
this is I’m going to hold the band with both hands, get it close to my chest. Eyes are open. Get into my staggered stance, all right. So now I’m going to have to maintain my
balance here. Once I’m in position, I close my eyes, again
making sure that I have my balance. Then from there, what I want to do is push
the band out away from me. As I push the band away from me, it’s going
to require some additional stabilization on the body, and a lot of people will find as
soon as the band comes into play, their balance is very challenged, where they have to step
out of it. So this is a great drill that you can do. Again, depending on what you found in your
own body. Keeping the head still, it is just an eyes
open, eyes closed variation, adding in a band. Now, when you add the band in, I also recommend
that you not always have it pulling from, in this particular case from my left to my
right. I also want to pull from my right to left. I can have the band up overhead behind me. I can have it down below behind me. What you’ll find is that each of those variations
challenges your balance in a different way. In order to improve balance, what we’ve
seen in research is that you need to spend somewhere between maybe seven and 10 minutes,
three times a week, working through these different variations. If you can do that, it will have big benefits
for you, not only in safety, as you move through the world, but usually we see great improvements
as well in generalized athleticism. So, this is part one. In our next episode, I’m going to go through
how do we now challenge the balance system when our head is in motion, which is where
a lot of people find they need some work. So stay tuned. We’ll talk to you about that next week. Otherwise, enjoy these progressions. Let us know if you have any questions.

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