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Improve Your Balance

How often do you focus on balance when working out? Is it really that important? We tell you how it is, straight up.

When it comes to exercise and physical fitness, balance is usually the last thing on your mind. After all, what's fitness got to do with balance, right? Believe it or not, balance and fitness work hand in hand to help you achieve a greater state of living.

Simply put, balance is the central nervous system and muscular system, working together to keep your body's centre of gravity sustained and supported. Balance is what keeps you upright, and because it is dominated by your strength and endurance, it is a major component of all movement happening within your body.

The loss of balance is a cause of many falls in older adults and a major contributor to injuries that can negatively affect your health and well-being.

Balance is affected, mainly by three systems within the human body. These include the vestibular apparatus, visual system and the proprioceptors.

The vestibular apparatus
The vestibular apparatus is an organ which is located in your inner ear. It works in a similar manner to a builder's level and its main responsibility is to give the body a sense of balance by detecting awareness.

Visual system
The eyes and vision in general, is an important contributor to helping you maintain your balance. Loss of vision can result in a loss of balance. Test this theory by standing on one leg and maintaining your balance. Then close your eyes and notice how much more you need to concentrate in order to keep your balance. It takes a lot of practice to get this balance right without vision.

The proprioceptors detect your body's spatial awareness and are located throughout the body. Some of their locations include the muscles, joints, skin, ligaments and joint capsules. Each one of these has its own specific role in maintaining your balance. You have the neck proprioceptors, which detect motion within the head, foot proprioceptors, which detect motion in your feet and provide your central nervous system with signals to help maintain your balance.

Muscle imbalances and injuries can all lead to compromising balance. Whether you're fit as a fiddle or never set foot in a gym, working on your balance today can help you achieve a greater state of living. Try these exercises at home to improve your balance.

Start off balancing on a flat surface. If you are very unstable, have someone help you or hold onto a wall or chair to maintain your balance until you are comfortable enough to do without the props.

  • Stand with your feet together, transfer your weight to one leg and slowly lift the other leg off the floor. Start with short distances between your foot and the floor and progress to wider distances. Repeat on the opposite side.

  • Standing with you feet together, transfer your weight to the right leg. Lift your left foot off the ground and swing it forwards and backwards without moving the hips. Repeat on the opposite side.

  • Stand facing a wall, place both hands flat against the wall and keep your body in a straight line. Transfer your weight to your right leg, whilst lifting your left leg, turning your knee outwards while keeping your hips facing forward. Rotate your hip inwards guiding it with the knee and return to the starting position, repeating several times. Complete on the opposite side.

Author: Dimi Ingle
Copyright: Remedium. This article may not be copied, in whole or in part, without the written consent of Remedium.

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