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We take our ability to balance our bodies for granted. Because we can stand upright and walk around, sit up and do other things requiring simple balance, we don’t often think about having subpar balance ability. But for more people than not, balance is usually an issue. Our muscles and core can function in a normal balancing situation, but outside of our normal activity balancing can be extremely difficult.
Just like any other muscle group or fitness exercise, enhancing balance should be a part of your normal activity when building health and fitness. First you want to establish what your level of total body balance is currently, and then you want to build on this balance or the lack of.
A great way to establish your current level of full body balance is to just do the crane pose. The crane pose is done by standing on one foot with your arms out to the side. You can do this crane pose several different ways. One way is to place the bottom of your foot on the inside thigh of the opposite leg. The second way is to stand square forward and raise one leg to the front of your body with the knee bent at 90° and hold that pose. The third way is to stand square forward and just raise your foot bending at the knee. In this pose the knee of the lifted leg is still straight down towards the floor with the foot facing to the rear. Another way is to stand square forward and with a straight leg, push one leg behind you and try to hold your balance on one foot that way.
Former Champion Bodybuilder, Fitness Author, and Coach, Michaelson Williams
In each of these balance poses, your arms can be straight out to the side. The closer you can bring your arms into your body’s centerline, the greater your current balance level. There are other ways to test how well your stabilizers and balancing muscles are working, but the crane poses mentioned above are the most well known. Testing your balance or building your stabilizers for balancing can be performed anywhere or on varied surfaces.
There are never any time constraints on performing balancing exercises. When trying to build your balance start with a simple low number such as 5 to 15 seconds of holding a particular pose and then relax. Each time you accomplish holding the pose for a certain amount of time simply increase that time and your ability to balance will be greater.
When trying to establish a better balance it is important to hold your abdomen in and your entire core as tight as possible. This gives the lower body greater stabilization which will assist you and increase how long you are able to hold a balancing pose. Because balancing is done without equipment, exercises to increase balance and stability can be performed at home, while traveling, on business or vacation. Having great balance can help to prevent many potential slip and fall situations.
While trying to increase the length of time that you are able to hold a balancing pose at a hotel, use the swimming pool. Once you enter the swimming pool, put your arms out to the side like floaters and then lift one leg into one of the crane poses mentioned. The water resistance around the body will help to hold you into your balancing position for longer periods of time. This also relieves pressure on your foot stabilizer muscles.
While training to increase balance, make certain that the left and right side of your body hold the same pose for the exact same amount of time. It is also a good idea to balance on the weaker side of your body first and then move over to your stronger side. This is to avoid having the dominant side continues strengthening at a faster rate. If you hold a pose on the weaker left side of the body for 15 seconds, then you understand that you should not hold the dominant side of your body for 30 seconds. You want your body to be ambidextrous in its ability to work and operate the muscles.
It is possible that you may find balancing on one foot difficult no matter what the situation or surface you are on. If this is the case then what you want to do is balance on both legs with one leg in front of the other. In essence you want to be in a lunge forward type movement with your weight distributed on your front and back legs evenly. You can place a line on the floor with tape or even use the edge of a towel as your reference points for your front and back foot. Both the front and back foot should be incomplete alignment with heels on the ground.
You want to feel like you are balancing on a high wire. In this balancing position you want to start with your less dominant foot forward and use that time measurement to set your dominant foot forward time. If you already have great balance after testing yourself and you want to increase your balancing ability further, an excellent way to do this is while standing in sand. Hold the same poses that you would normally hold on flat ground.
If you want to increase that balancing pose difficulty even more, then walk out into the surf and try to hold your balancing poses in the water while the sand is moving beneath your feet. It doesn't matter how much difficulty you are having with your balance because every time you focus on these different poses your balance will become better and more stable. Over time and little by little your physical balance will increase and your mental balance will too.