I would like to share with you an experiment in my personal balance training for body stability improvement; hope you will find it interesting.
Objective: Observations for progressive personal balance training (level 3) effect in body stability improvement
Importance for balance training: Balance is the condition during which the body's center of gravity is maintained within its base of support; the state of equilibrium, which relies on:
Position of the center of gravity in relation to the base of support
Direction of the forces
Base of support
There are three pathways that help maintain balance, and they are:
Training the core muscles is vital for athletes, bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts. Whether running, lifting or performing upper/lower body activities, power in each movement is generated from the core. Gaining enough core strength increases the stability of the pelvis and spine, which improves balance during athletic and bodybuilding movements 1 .
Balance has been a part of my integrated personal training program, which began with level 1, then progressed and maintained for level 2 over 1 year. This experiment was intended to observe the effect at the next level (III) for the first 14 days during the ongoing progression personal training.
Levels of balance training are defined as following: Level 1: free-standing single-limb stance (left and right) with eyes open on stable surface, also with yoga based dynamic body poses Level 2: free-standing static single-limb stance (left and right) with eyes closed on stable surface Level 3: free-standing static single-limb stance (left and right) on a cushion with eyes closed
Results Level 3 Results
1. free-standing static single-limb stance (left and right) on a cushion with eyes closed; Day 1 – Day 14 balance time data summary Summary of Improvement 2-week overall average vs. baseline 2-Week overall average left 54.6 sec right 38.7 sec Baseline left 20 sec right 25 sec Improvement left + 34.6 sec right +13.7 sec
2. Additional observation free-standing static single-limb stance (left and right) on a cushion with eyes open; Day 1 and Day 14 balance time data summary Summary of Improvement Day 14 vs. Day 1: Left +25 sec Right +33 sec
Comparison with Level 1 and Level 2 Level 1: free-standing single-limb stance (left and right) with eyes open on stable surface and with yoga based dynamic body poses Results: up to approximately 70 - 80 seconds on left or right limb stand, comfortably with yoga based dynamic body poses, upon approximately 2 years routine practice
Level 2: free-standing static single-limb stance (left and right) with eyes closed on stable surface Results: up to approximately 100 – 120 seconds stands on left or right limb stand comfortably, upon approximately 14 months routine practice
Level 3: free-standing static single-limb stance (left and right) on a cushion with eyes closed; upon the initial 2-week practice, effects are observed as following at this early time point, while the training routine is continuing:
1. When standing on a cushion with eyes closed, the difficulty level is increased considerably compared with level 1 and level 2, as the level 3 baseline ( 20 - 25 seconds) showing a dramatic shortened balance time from level 2 (comfortably 2 minutes) . With the eyes open (75 seconds at baseline), however, it was less challenging. This observation suggests the importance of visual balance.
2. Data collected with open eye balance on cushion (75 seconds at baseline and 100/108 seconds on day 14) – results are comparable with level 2 (comfortably 120 seconds).
3. Left and right lib strength are not equal in the same individual under the same training conditions, however, improvements were observed in both sides [2-Week overall average (left 54.6 sec and right 38.7 sec) comparing to the baseline (left 20 sec and right 25 sec) , positive deltas were observed at left + 34.6 sec and right +13.7 sec].
Descriptive data from the initial 14 day level 3 balance challenge are summarized as following –
Balance training is essential for body stability improvement. Overall balance enhancement on Level 3 difficulty was observed, as demonstrated by average time increase compared with baseline, after 14 days daily practice.
Variability of individual balance strength of each limb has been observed; left and right limb balance strength varies. Variance from day to day of the same limb is also observed. Limb strength improvements of both sides have been observed.
Significance for body stability benefit – not conclusive at the 2-week time point. This training program is continuing and progresses are to be evaluated with the same criteria at ongoing basis.
Practical applications and potential long-term benefits from literature review: The potential benefits of routine balance training include improvements to overall fitness, performance, and injury prevention. Specific Benefits Include 2, 3, 4, 5:
There is strong evidence to suggest that balance training can improve static balance ability on stable and unstable surfaces, as well as dynamic balance ability.
1. Mind and body connection – It benefits neuromuscular coordination – basically it helps improve the communication between brain and muscles. Body awareness is the sense of how your own limbs are oriented in space, also referred to as proprioception. Balance training promotes body awareness which makes movement more seamless and prevents injury. As balance diminishes progressively with age, balance training is not just about avoiding falls. Better balance will improve focus, overall movement and physical ability in daily life.
2. Core stabilization and coordination – Balance training requires all of the body to work together otherwise one might fall or stumble. It helps with core stabilization – this in turn helps to improve coordination and posture.
3. Joint Stability – Balance training promotes stable knees, ankles, hips, and shoulders. This can prevent a whole array of injuries including sprained ankles and serious knee problems. It helps with muscle isolation – during balance training you have to maintain stabilization and you are forced to engage an individual muscle predominantly.
4. Reaction Time – If you slip or stumble when carrying out challenging balance exercises your body needs to re-balance immediately or you will fall. This can improve your reaction time as you learn to quickly correct a mistake, but not over-correct.
5. Strength – Balance training is challenging for nervous system (brain and nerves). The nervous system recruits your muscle when lifting weights, so as nervous system becomes more efficient it can recruit a higher percentage of muscle for each lift. This means you are stronger and can lift more weight.
6. Power – Power is the ability to exert maximum muscular contraction instantly in an explosive burst of movement. The two components of power are strength and speed. With quicker reaction times and stronger muscles, your power ability should increase too.
7. Agility – Agility is defined as quick and nimble. It is the ability to change the direction of the body in an efficient and effective manner and to achieve this requiring a combination of balance, speed, strength, and co-ordination. Therefore, the better your balance is, the more likely you are to have good agility.
8. Long term health – Incorporating balance training into your routine helps to maintain or improve your balance, which is needed to prevent falls and fractures. As balance may deteriorate with age, you want to be proactive with balance training efforts.
Suggested focus for future balance studies
Establishing balance standard or normal range by age for healthy individuals
Develop practical guidelines for balance training program design, implementation, and maintenance
The effective balance training evaluation criteria and measurement
Include balance exercises into personal fitness routine is beneficial
Challenge brain and body with increased level of balance difficulties
Practice balance routinely with yoga and tai chi for continued body stability improvements