The Best Workouts to Improve Balance

The Best Workouts to Improve Balance

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Yoga is an excellent workout to improve balance.

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Having good balance is an essential part of a functional life. Static balance is the ability to balance in one position. Dynamic balance is the ability to balance while moving or changing between positions. To improve balance you must improve the strength of your muscles, especially your core muscles. You must also improve proprioception, or awareness of your body's position in space.

Functional Training

Your body moves by storing and releasing mechanical energy. No individual muscle functions alone. If you are moving one muscle, others also engage to stabilize your body or prepare it for the next movement. In fact, you use 300 muscles just to stand still. Because of this, exercise should not focus on just one muscle or joint, but rather a series of movement patterns. Functional exercises engage multiple muscles and move more than one joint at the same time to improve proprioception, strength and balance. Because functional exercises focus on training movement patterns, and not muscles, it prepares your body to perform and balance well in any situation.

Three-Dimensional Workouts

Three-dimensional workouts include exercises such as Tai Chi, qi gong, dance, yoga and Pilates. Sports are also three-dimensional in nature because you move through more than one plane of motion as you play. Practicing three-dimensional movements is a valuable way to develop proprioception. After a while, you will no longer have to think about your balance and movements as you do them. Communication between your muscles and your central nervous system improves and, as a result, so does your balance.

Strength Training

To improve balance, you must improve strength, especially in the core and lower body. To strength train, you add resistance to movements. The increased load strengthens your muscles. Functional strength training involves adding resistance such as weights or resistance bands to functional movement patterns. Because you must use your core for stability as you do these exercises, it is a good way to build core strength while you are strengthening other muscles. Muscle isolation training with weight machines and free weights focuses on individual muscles or muscle groups. This type of training can be valuable if your muscle strength is imbalanced due to habitual movement patterns or injury. A balanced program that includes both functional and isolation strength training is valuable for improving overall balance.

Balance Exercise

The smaller your base of support, the harder it is to balance. You can decrease your base of support by standing on your toes, standing while touching your feet together, standing with one foot in front of the other or standing while lifting one foot. You can also make it more difficult by working on an unstable surface, such as a foam pad, balance disc or wobble board. When you challenge your static balance in this way, your proprioception improves, as does your dynamic balance. As your static balance improves, practice moving smoothly from one balanced position to another on all types of surfaces. Focus on the stabilizing muscles. You may add balance exercises to any workout or you may do them on their own.