As Runners and triathletes we focus on swimming, biking, running, strength, nutrition, flexibility, and recovery, but I challenge you to consider adding balance work to your schedule. Why and how you might ask? Both easy answers…Why? Well, running is essentially a one-foot balancing act. Think about it: when you are running, you are airborne or “balancing” on one foot. Half of your energy is focused on preventing you from falling over. You’re forced to negotiate uneven pavement, traffic, other runners, stoplights, cars and more. If you don’t work on balance then it naturally declines. Well, I’m working on balance every day when I run…hmmmm, maybe because balance and stability are two different entities. Balance is derived from sensory nerve endings in your muscles. These nerve endings act to sense changes in your body position and you can improve your balance by increasing the ability of these nerve endings to respond. Just like any muscle you have to train these nerve endings. While standing barefoot on one foot you can sense your body’s natural inclination. Every time your foot hits the ground your body follows it’s inclination. Here is why imbalances occur…your body is following the path of least resistance.
We often think of working our core because that helps to control our entire body, but running doesn’t just entail standing tall, it encompasses all of the stabilizer muscles throughout the entire body chain, as well as muscles in the upper body. So, here is the why and now the how…
While we don’t have to all be able to balance on a double bosu (but, I’ve been working towards bicep curls on the double bosu), there are so many exercises that will help strengthen those sensory nerve endings and improve your athletic performance. Balance training will make you more stable on the road, the bike and in the pool (I didn’t even touch on “core” exercises, but most balance exercises require a stable core) and only takes a short amount of time during the week. We think about spending 60 minutes in the gym with high intensity training or lifting weights to make us strong, how about substituting lower weight for more reps and adding stability balls, bosu balls, TRX and more. In a short amount of time you can see a huge payoff.
Let me know how I can help…lots of cool balance drills to engage the brain, the core, and all of those small muscles that keep us on the move. Looking forward to some challenging training.