Balance trains your body as a unit, which is fundamental to your overall health:
Loss of balance creeps up on us as we get older and it almost feels as though it’s a surprise when we find we’re ‘suddenly’ a bit rubbish at it…..
Truth be told the human body is inherently unstable like a tall block of flats. For the flats to maintain their structure they need to have good foundations and the same goes for us too. Your muscles are your foundations and they gradually start reducing from the age of 35, which is why so many people start to experience pain and stability issues from their 40’s onwards. Your block of flats is losing it’s structure and you need to get it back, which is entirely possible and that’s the beauty of strength, balance and mobility training.
Balance not only relies on muscle but also on your cognitive ability (function of your brain). We rely on sensory feedback from our joints as well as visual perception to maintain balance. Try standing on one leg and closing your eyes…… It’s a constant process of feedback between our motor and muscle systems. The problems come when we start to feel too unsteady as we age and then start using objects such as a walking stick or we venture out less because we’re too nervous. Inactivity leads to more loss of muscle, which only makes it worse. Believe it or not the walking stick is doing the job that your core and glutes should be doing. A strong core is absolutely key and works in combination with your glutes to control your extremities.
Have you started getting annoyed with yourself because you trip up too easily? Go over on your ankle? Feel unsteady on the stairs? You can improve all of this through consistent training to re-condition your body and brain. It’s never too late to start but the earlier the better – don’t ignore it.
How? A combination of activities is key. Walking is brilliant. Big strides with opposite leg and opposite shoulder working together. Keep your belly button slightly pulled in to engage your core so you have a connection from opposite hip to opposite shoulder. Balance work. Stand on one leg while you’re cleaning your teeth or washing up etc. Try to build up to one minute on each leg. Try closing your eyes but be careful! You can then add some movement such as swaying your arms while you hold balance. Strength training. Body weight training or using weights (start very light so you don’t impact joint mobility). Your core is key and by core I mean your deep abdominal wall. If you strengthen that then a number of issues or potential issues will improve.
Focus on forms of exercise that involve strength and balance. Try to do at least an hour a week – this could be 10 minutes a day or 20 minutes 3 times a week etc. Absolute minimum of 1 hour. If you increase this to 2 hours a week then results come more quickly.
Your future self is up to you.