Balance Training

Balance training helps people get stronger and steadier on their feel to avoid trips and falls as they age. Balance training focuses on strengthening the core, hip and leg muscles through a variety of targeted, low impact, strength building exercises.

Why would someone need balance training?

Dr. John-Paul Whitmire: Well a good portion of the population has sedentary jobs or the jobs that we have are too repetitive. One of the things that we need to do is prepare our body for those circumstances where we slip or we have a misstep. One of the most common injuries that older folks have is falls and trips. What we need to do is prepare for that timeframe with good balance, which means good muscle tone and good muscle memory.

What areas of the body does balance training help improve?

Dr. John-Paul Whitmire: Most of the balance training that we work on is from the core down to the ground, because you need a strong core. You need good hip muscles and you also need to have strong calf muscles for good anti-gravity balance posture.

What are some examples of balance training exercises?

Dr. John-Paul Whitmire: There’s a whole lot of different types of balance training out there. I like to do a lot of easy stuff that anybody can do at home. One of my favorites is to get in a position where you can grab ahold of a wall or a chair and stand on one leg, raise the other leg up with the knee bent to about waist level. Now the studies have shown that the average 60+ year old can stand there without falling or putting the other foot down for about 30 seconds. Most of the rest of us, under the age of 60, should be able to hold that knee up and keep that balance for about 60 seconds. This is something you can do, switching legs, watching TV, having conversations, that will work those anti-gravity muscles and that balance training for that muscle memory every day. It’s very simple.

Doc, you like some of the equipment that’s out there. You want to tell them about some of the equipment you like for balance training?

Dr. Bellacov: Yeah. Balance training can be fun. We have big blue balls that you often see at workout centers. A whole bunch of blocker boards, different types of wedges that people can use to help with their balance.

Are there high impact and low impact balance exercises?

Dr. John-Paul Whitmire: There definitely are. Speaking from a chiropractic office, where we deal with a lot of injuries, high impact is great for that athlete. Those folks that are, you know, heavy into the cross training, but for the average person, low impact I find is much better for them. Weekend athlete injuries tend to be tougher to deal with than professional athlete injuries. High impact exercises, most of the aerobics that are out there anymore are high impact. There are some low impact, but for most of us taking your nice walks, or water aerobics, swimming, elliptical machines, simple weight lifting exercises, can be great for working on that balance.

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