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Why you need to improve your balance.
This past weekend, I completed my third triathlon this year with the best fitness friends a girl could have – Becky Skipper, Toni Greenberg and new triathlete Laura Barclay. The triathlon was the Hammerhead Triathlon (HOT) held at Camp Blanding and it was a blast! Kingsley Lake was absolutely gorgeous which made for a great swim. There were several hills on the bike portion of the event then a flat course 5K at the end for the run.
When you compete in a triathlon, you have to “transition” between the disciplines. After the swim, you run into the staging area to get ready for the bike portion. You need to put on your bike shoes, helmet, event bib while remembering to take off your swim cap and goggles. I have biked out of transition with my goggles on before – I’m sure that was a pretty sight!
The next transition is when you park your bike and if you’re wearing bike shoes like I do, you need to switch from those shoes into your running shoes. For the first transition, I had little rocks on the bottom of my feet from walking from the lake to the transition area. There were people running to transition but those rocks hurt when you step on them!
There I was trying to stand on one foot but doing more wobbling than anything else while brushing the rocks off the bottom of my feet then putting my sock and shoe on. That’s when it popped into my head – core engaged, shoulders back and down and my balance instantly became better.
Many times we don’t realize how important balance is in our day to day lives until we run into an issue. Ask anyone who has had vertigo how important balance is.
How do we strengthen our balance?
There are several exercises that will help improve balance. Most important is to work on your core strength because a strong midsection can help you get control when you wobble. Planks are a great exercise for a strong midsection. Start with three 30 second planks and build from there then add these four exercises:
- Balance on one leg. Keeping the wall or a chair within touching distance, pick one foot off the ground while standing on the other leg. Repeat on the other side.
- Leg swings. Standing on one leg, pick the other up off the ground and swing it forward and backward. Repeat on the other side.
- One legged squat. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Place your right foot just ahead of you then squat on your left leg by putting your rear back as you would when sitting down in a chair. Repeat on the other side.
- One legged dead lift. Balance on your right foot then slowly forward at the hips. Keep your back flat and your abs tight to maintain your form. Only bend as far as you feel comfortable.
If at ANY time, these exercises do not feel natural or you are struggling, it’s best to get in contact with a trainer or instructor that can help you.
People are often unaware that their balance or coordination may be slipping as they get older. A doctor once wrote that if you want to live longer, don’t fall. Strengthening your body and keeping your balance and coordination strong will help you keep your body stable.
To your health,