I frequently hear students say “Oh I don’t have good balance.” There is a presumption that balance is like flexibility – either something you naturally have or something you may have to really work at and still may be limited. While I would agree that yes – some of us are naturally more flexible – our ligaments, joints and muscles have more ‘stretch’ – others are built a little tighter. They can improve but may never be able to do the splits! Balance on the other hand, in my opinion is not the same at all. Balance comes from developing symmetry, strength and stability in our bodies. Yes – you can definitely improve your balance! And here’s why you should:
How often do you hear about an elderly person falling and breaking a hip? Too often! Why do elderly people fall so much? They don’t have good balance! Try this little experiment. You’ll need a friend to help you. Stand squarely on two feet – have your friend bump into you. What happens? Most likely you catch yourself with no issues. Now stand on one foot and have your friend bump into you again. What happens? If you have decent balance – you’ll catch yourself, if not you may stumble. Balance helps us to steady ourselves through out days as we are nudged, bumped, reach, bend and so on. Without balance – we fall. Balance comes from having a strong muscular support system that reacts quickly when we need it.
Having big muscles (ie. body builders) does not necessarily equate to balance. To perform a bird dog balance pose for example – you need the help of your multi-fibidous muscles – tiny muscles that are found all down your spine.
Pilates is such a great way to work on your balance. Many things that we do require us to hold one position while performing a task – this is balance. Holding one leg in table top while moving the other- this is creating stability! Standing on one foot while pushing the carriage with the other – this requires balance.
So besides Pilates – how can you work on balance? Challenge yourself in little ways through out your day. As you are brushing your teeth – try standing on one foot. The sink is there to catch you if you stumble! You can also do this while doing the dishes. Try holding a plank in your living room and lifting one hand or foot.
As we age – balance becomes so important to keeping us safe. Don’t accept that you don’t have good balance – take it as a challenge and work until you do! I have found it doesn’t take that long to improve and it can be fun!