Personally written by Milan Lassiter, DC, 1303 W. Main St, Richmond, VA, Tel #: (804) 254-5765
In it’s simplest sense, I break down exercise into 4 parts:
– Resistance training (weights, bands, kettle bells, etc)
– Cardiovascular training (aerobic exercise)
– Stretching (lengthening muscles and tendons)
– Balance training
Many people who exercise do 1 or 2 of the above; most people do not do all 4. The most common one that is overlooked is balance training. Your sense of balance can be improved when it is trained, just like you’ll get stronger by lifting weights or become more limber by stretching.
Clinically, a good deal of your sense of balance comes from something called proprioception. Proprioception is your sense of knowing where your body is with relation to the space around you. This is an abstract concept to grasp because much of proprioception occurs subconciously. Think of your ability to close your eyes, put your arm out in-front of you, and then touch tour finger to your nose. You know how to do that because of proprioception.
Your sense of proprioception is often impaired when you’ve had a muscle sprain or strain, arthritic joint, or have damaged an area of your body on the job, in an accident, during sport, or in some other way. Over the years, you may notice increased stiffness, chronic inflammation, continual pain, and the diminished capacity to use an area of your body. This will commonly lead to reduced proprioception, sometimes recognized as poor balance.
Proprioceptive exercises teach your body how to control the position and stability of a deconditioned or injured area of your body. A simple example that I teach in the office is standing on one foot and being able to hold that position for 1 minute. Think it’s easy? Try it. If it is easy, try closing your eyes and balancing on one foot (working up to 1 minute). This helps to retrain your balance and proprioceptive abilities from a conscious state to a subconscious state. A fast, subconscious, and properly firing proprioceptive system is important for your daily activities and is especially essential relative to sport activities.
Balance and proprioception are critical to retrain after any injury, but it’s also smart to train them during your daily workouts. Below are a few ways to exercise your sense of balance during your normal workouts. Shown here are delt flies, but you can use the same concept to do bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, over-head presses, etc.