Balance workout

Written by: Vojko Strojnik, Ph.D.

Balance workout is also referred to as proprioceptive workout or sensory-motor training. Balance workout is associated with improved coordination of muscle function, which can provide better balance of the body. With appropriate exercises, we can bring about improvement of individual joints. Balance workout of the whole body is particularly beneficial for older people, while training for individual joints is used primarily in preventive and rehabilitation training to improve the stability of the joints.

The objectives of balance workout are:

  • Increased stability of joints
  • Better awareness of the body
  • More accurate motion
  • Less injuries
  • Better balance

In choosing the exercise, we select a body part/joint on which we will focus. The workout is used to improve the stabilization of the ankle, knee, shoulder girdle and the lumbar spine. Training methods are divided into static, semi-dynamic and dynamic. For the stability of an individual joint, the semi-dynamic method is the most frequently used because it involves contact with the surface through an unstable surface such as pillow or equilibrium board. For the balance workout of the whole body, dynamic methods seem more appropriate because they involve moving on a small or unstable surface such as walking on a balance beam.

Strain with the balance workout is not as well defined or characterized as with the workouts for strength or endurance. The essence of balance workout is to attain balance, and then lose it. This is how we determine the intensity of the workout, which can be adapted to anyone. The amplitude of movement with this workout is not important. Exercises can be done in one or more axes simultaneously. We strive for more axle load. Basic methodical guidance for the workout includes permanent authenticity of the workout, and adjustment of load complexity to match the abilities of the person working out. The duration of each series should take about 20 seconds, with 5 to 10 series for the same joint. Breaks between series usually consist of a workout for the other joint (exercise of the right and left side of the body).

We can increase the difficulty of the training in different ways -- by changing the rigidity of unstable surfaces, using additional functions, changing the size of the handles, and so on. We emphasize the role of balance by closing the eyes. Significant deterioration in balance with closed eyes may indicate a malfunction of the balancing organ in the inner ear. A person with an impaired inner ear experiences the same problem during skiing, when they are blinded with diffused light.

Balance workout can be carried out independently, or with other workouts on training units. When you carry out the balance workout with other workouts on the training unit, it should be executed at the end of exercise unless you are very tired (high muscle acidification or glycogen depletion). In this case, it is better to carry it out as an independent exercise unit. Balance workout is usually not executed at the beginning of the training unit because it temporarily alters the body's sense of perception and reduces the activation level of the nervous system. This makes it difficult to carry out exercises with enhanced coordination and activation of muscles.

Picture 1. Workout for ankle on a balance board

Picture 2. Workout for ankle on a pillow