As necessary as balance is why does it seem like we are so often challenged by our abilities to keep from being knocked off balance? First of all – Fear of falling. We have a tendency to think that avoiding situations where we might risk falling is a good strategy. But, in fact, the very process of righting ourselves improves our balance. “It’s use it or lose it”, says Julia Valentour, programs coordinator for the American Council on Exercise. “The more we sit and the less active we are, the more likely our balance will deteriorate.”
Second, keeping the human body balanced takes many systems of the body working together in a harmonious unit. No easy feat. Maintaining one’s balance ( or equilibrium, physical stability, or steadiness), is primarily coordinated by 3 systems, explains Gerry Green, director of the Fitness Center at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J. The first is the vestibular or auditory system, located in the inner ear, which acts like a “carpenter’s balance” to keep you level. The second balance coordinator is the proprioceptive system, which uses sensory nerves called proprioceptors that are located in the muscles, tendons, and joints. They give signals to the central nervous system, which gives you an awareness of your body posture and spatial awareness. And finally, there is the visual system, which sends visual signals from the eyes to the brain about your body’s position in relation to its surroundings. Your balance may be “off”, says Green, for a number of reasons, including illness, injury, poor posture, muscle imbalances, or a weak core.
At our Balance Training classes and seminars we address these issues and more. Whatever a person’s age or fitness level they need balance training to raise them to the highest level of agility and performance for their lifestyle.