Sports Nutritionist Krupali Shah
Balance training enhances body awareness and movement efficiency. The more you use balance boards, the better your agility and reaction skills become, resulting in better athletic performance and a reduced chance of injury. Proprioception is the body’s awareness of its own motion and position. It’s essential to enjoyable and injury free running and is the secret to optimum performance. Understanding and developing your proprioceptive sense is the first step on the journey towards awakening the skill of natural movement.
Proprioception and Balance
Taken as a whole, proprioception includes balance, coordination and agility because the body’s proprioceptors control all these factors. Proprioceptors consist of both sensory and motor nerves that send and receive impulses to and from the central nervous system from stimuli within the skin, muscles, joints and tendons (Houglum 2001). These impulses transmit vital information, such as the amount of tension in a given muscle and the relative position of a body part during a given movement. By improving their proprioception, clients can gain the balance skills necessary to maintain stability; hone their agility so they can quickly change direction when necessary; and fine-tune coordination skills so they can perform physical activities accurately and consistently. Proprioception exercises reduce the risk of injury by teaching the body to react appropriately to sudden changes in the environment. A good sense of proprioception is vital for many fitness activities, especially some of the more advanced core-training classes.
When designing any proprioception training program, you need to consider the client’s age, body weight, level of competition and footwear. During proprioceptive activities, children under the age of 16 are at a higher risk of injury than adults because their central nervous systems are not fully developed; information is not transmitted quickly enough to provide the necessary safeguards against excessive body stresses. Older adults have a similar problem because message transmissions to and from the central nervous system tend to slow with age. Both children and seniors are also more prone to injuries during proprioception training because they tend to have less muscular strength than adults.
Equipments that improve balance
1. BOSU Ball
2. Beam Balance
3. Balance Boards
4. Thera Band
5. Bongo Boards
Role in Sport
1.Dancing requires quick changes in positioning of the body, especially in the feet, ankles, knees and hips. Because the eyes are not fixated on a single point, good balance is necessary to make smooth, complete moves.
2. Fighting stances, execution of kicks and punches, and movement require perfect balancing. Typical balance exercises for martial arts training include leg lift, knee on the bag, handstand, and one leg stand.
3. Soccer is an unpredictable game. Players constantly change direction, absorb contact and land on potentially uneven surfaces. The drills (Single-Leg Resisted Front Kicks, BOSU Jump and Kick, etc) will improve your overall balance so you can stay in control during games.
Balance for Elderly
Elderly Balance Exercise Safety Guidelines
1. Make sure you check with your doctor if you suspect a more serious balance problem involving vertigo, ear infections, Meniere’s disease, chronic dizziness or drug interactions.
2. If you are working with a senior with poor balance or the frail elderly, make sure they are closely supervised at all times.
3. Progress to the next exercise when the preceding one can be done safely or if you have enough assistance.
4. Be aware of your posture. Try to maintain your weight over your ankles.
5. Avoid fast movements including quick turns or changes in position.
6. Use a chair as a place to not only perform seated exercise but also to hold on to while standing.
7. Hold on with your finger, one hand or two hands.
8. Always get up slowly when rising from a chair.
9. Don’t close your eyes when exercising or standing at your chair.
Few Balance Exercises for Elderly:
1. Single Limb Stance
2. Eye tracking
3. Clock Reach
4. Balancing Wand
5. Knee Marching (less)