Jackie Wright – Balance and Core Stability
Grand County, Colorado
(First in a two-part series)
In biomechanical terms, if we are able to maintain our center of gravity within a specific base of support and minimize our body’s sway, we are balanced. Core stability, however, refers to the sway of the body that occurs when we are standing upright and what measures we have to take to correct that sway.
The following two exercises are effective for improving your balance and core stability. As always, consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.
Progressive Unilateral Stand – (improves balance/core stability)
• Begin standing next to a stable countertop or wall for support with the left leg closest to the support and the left hand resting on the support.
• Looking straight ahead, rotate the shoulders back/down, rib cage lifted, navel pulled toward the spine, knees relaxed and transfer the body weight into the heel-to-mid/foot of the left leg.
• Without leaning into the support, lift the entire right leg up to hip height (or as close as you can manage without breaking form) and hold. Remain as still as possible for 5-10 seconds.
• Variation 1 – Remain close to the support, lifting the hand off of the support and keep it off unless or until you begin to sway/lose balance for 5-10 seconds.
• Variation 2 – Once you have mastered variation #1, without losing your balance, move away from the support, performing the same sequence holding for 5-10 seconds.
• Variation 3 – The Wheel – Begin lifting the right leg up and down from the hip joint, then lift to the side of the body/down and extend it from the hip behind the body/down, remaining balanced and stable. Perform the “wheel” (i.e. front/side/back), one to three sets of 8 repetitions.
• Variation 4 – If you are really up for a challenge, and have mastered variation 3, attempt this exercise on a BOSU Balance Trainer or pillow disc beginning with the foundation exercise first.
• Perform this exercise on both sides of the body, 2-3 times, two-three times per week.
Seated overhead press/leg extension – (improves balance/core stability)
• Choose a 55-65cm stability ball which will enable you to sit upright with your knees flexed 90 degrees at the knee joint.
• Looking straight ahead, rotate the shoulders back/down, rib cage lifted, navel pulled toward the spine, and the feet flat on the floor.
• Lift the right arm into a 90-degree bend at the elbow joint to shoulder height, with the palm facing forward. Then, extend the arm into an overhead press holding it next to the ear and maintain balance for 5-10 seconds.
• Now, extend the left leg from the knee joint so that the knee faces the ceiling and hold this position, maintaining balance for 5-10 seconds.
• Lower the arm and the leg simultaneously and repeat again lifting the arm/leg simultaneously.
• Then, perform this sequence on the other side. Perform 1-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions (overhead press/leg extension), two to three times per week.
• Variation – To further challenge your balance and stability, perform the overhead press with a dumbbell or weighted bar.
Next week, we will feature another exercise focusing on balance/core stability and some practical methods of challenging the balance/core stability during your activities of daily living.
– Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Never Summer Fitness LLC. She can be reached at her Web site at http://www.neversummerfitness.com, her e-mail address at NSFGL@comcast.net or at her blog at http://www.skyhidailynews.com
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