How to Improve Balance
Why do Most People have Poor Balance?
Balance refers to the ability to maintain a line of gravity within a base of support. In other words, it means the ability not to fall down. All you have to do is look at a one year old to see what I’m talking about… every step is uncertain, wobbly for a while until eventually, their base of support becomes more secure.
Now, if you look at most people, you might think they have pretty good balance, because people can walk around without falling down all the time. But, just try to stand on one leg for a few seconds and see if you can do it without looking like a one year old all over again.
If you can do that, try closing your eyes for a few seconds with that leg off the ground. Or try this… just walk very slowly. Take about 10 seconds per step and it will expose your insecure base of support while moving… Interesting, right?
It does not take much to expose the fact that most people have poor balance. But, before we get into why and how to fix it, just consider the consequences…
Poor balance means a decreased ability to move safely and powerfully in sports and life and of course, a significant increase in the risk of injury. That’s because the body is not working optimally and certain muscles will take too much stress when you have to balance, leading to poor movement and injury.
Great balance, on the other hand, means the exact opposite… increased performance and healthy movement while reducing the risk of injury dramatically. In other words, it is definitely worth the time to learn how to improve your balance. It allows you to move more gracefully, powerfully and most important, safely.
So, let me show you how…
How to Improve Balance
As you may have guessed already, improving balance is more than just getting better at standing on one leg. It requires that your muscles themselves are in balance. For example, if the muscles in the front of your body are stronger than the ones in the back, it will be hard to balance, no matter how much you practice.
Take a look at your hamstrings… are they really tight? Are your quads pretty loose? Well, that would be a significant imbalance in your legs, which makes it hard to have good overall balance.
So, the first step is to understand where you are too tight and where you are weak and to start addressing those issues. Stretch and move around a little bit and see if you can feel anywhere that has pain or tightness. And I’m willing to bet that you have it somewhere, if not multiple places…
Now, in my opinion, the #1 place to focus, at least in the beginning, is your ankles and calves. Consider that your body is balancing on your feet, which is your base. And remember, good balance requires a stable base of support. That’s your feet, calves and ankles!
So, if your ankles are weak, because you have sprained them over the years. Or if you are like pretty much everyone else and walk on even ground (cement, wood, carpet, etc.), then your ankles will be weak. Why? They are not being challenged on natural, uneven ground, so they atrophy over time.
Think about how much harder it is to walk barefoot on sand or rocky ground vs. cement. Over the years, your ankles just are not challenged very much so they get weaker and weaker. It makes it easy to get ankle sprains, but also ensures you will have poor balance.
Add to that the fact that everyone’s calves are too tight from unnatural shoes (dress shoes, high heels, etc), then you have a very good recipe for poor balance. And remember, that means increased risk of injury and decreased speed, agility and overall movement patterns.
So, if you are looking to improve your balance, the best to place to start is by improving overall strength, stability and healthy range of motion in your ankles. In fact, if you try to stand on one leg, you will probably feel it in your ankles more than anything else. All those little stabilizer muscles will go into overdrive.
What I am trying to say is that if you’re serious about improving balance, then you will need a good rehab program for the ankles. I have never met anyone that did not benefit GREATLY from it. You can either go see a good Physical Therapist or use my at home ankle system, HEM Ankle Rehab.
Either way, the key is to improve strength, stability and healthy range of motion in the ankles and calves. After about a week or two of ankle rehab, you will notice a substantial improvement in your overall balance.
The difference in how you move in sports and life will be dramatic. And obviously, the benefits go way beyond balance… It also improves speed, agility, performance and lowers the risk of injury. You will be able to move much more gracefully and safely in everyday life and sports. The little bit of time it takes is well worth the effort.