We hear this all the time.
“You need to balance business with pleasure.” or “Balanced nutrition is required for good health.” or “True fitness involves balance between aerobic and anaerobic training.”
Balance is amazing and we can see it all around us in our daily lives. We see it in our interpersonal relationships, we see it in our check books, in our cats as they deftly prowl the tops of narrow fences, and even in the circular orbits our lovely planet makes around our warm sun. Balance is everywhere and in many different forms. But one place you almost never see it is in the physical fitness programs being promoted at our fitness centers or on local television commercials.
The interesting thing is that, for most of us Americans, not a day goes by without some thought given to physical fitness. You could be a fitness buff who can’t stop thinking about your next training session or you could be a couch potato thinking that it would be good to lose a few pounds so that you look better and ache less. One way or another, most of us are thinking about fitness on some level, on a regular basis. Thinking about your foot pain? Fitness. Thinking about back pain? Fitness. Like it or not, it’s an inescapable part of our daily lives even if you’re not actively working at improving your fitness.
So why doesn’t anyone talk about the importance of balance training? I don’t have a scientific answer but I suspect it is because the system of balance in the human body is so complex. To be honest, it’s virtually unfathomable once you get below the eyes, ears and neck. How the periphery manages balance on the smallest of scales between all the little nerves that talk to each other is a question that only the bravest of neuroscientist would examine. Happily, for you and me, all we need to know is that is is automated and self regulating. All we need to do is practice correct balance training exercises and the spinal chord and fascial system take care of everything else.
So how does one exercise the balance system?
I know what you’re thinking. “I can do balance training. I can stand on one foot while I brush my teeth.” Well, that is a good beginning but it is just the most basic of training and to deepen your strength you need to take the next step to the magic of a wobble board. Easily purchased on amazon for about 20 bucks, this board can be utilized while you’re cooking dinner or watching a great movie on your blue-ray player. It is also easily transported from any room in your house or even in a suitcase if you’re traveling. All you need to do is spend a few minutes on it trying to stabilize yourself and you’ll soon discover all those muscles you never knew you had. Your feet and ankles will burn like you’ve never felt before but you will soon find that, overall, you feel stronger and more…….well, balanced.
Once you graduate to the advanced board ($80 from Fitness First on amazon) you will truly understand why balance training is so amazing. The wobble board safely creates an unstable platform under your feet that your entire body has to learn to work to correct. It makes any exercise program multiple times more effective and it will create a stability in your pelvis and low back that sets the stage for deeper, more comprehensive core strength. There is no way to say that this is training you can do without and it is far more important than most trainers even know about.
When you are ready to begin this component of fitness you are invited to call the office and arrange a time for me, Dr. Ed, to teach you the basics of balance training. True longevity requires balance. True fitness requires balance training.
Something to think about!