January 27th, 2012

Health N' Sports: Athletic Performance

Staff Report

Health N' Sports: Athletic Performance
photo from Kalisthenixfitnessblog.com

Louisville Orthopaedic Clinic discusses balance

Balance Training

Over the past several years, coaches and athletes have begun to incorporate more than just sport-specific training into practice.  Particularly in the off-season, more athletes are participating in cross training, agility, and strength training (i.e. weights).  Balance work can be an excellent adjunct to these programs.  Many studies have proven the effectiveness of balance training in preventing sports related injuries.  Balance training along with strength training may also improve athletic performance.

There are two types of balance: static and dynamic.  Static balance is the ability to maintain a base of support with minimal movement.  Dynamic balance is the ability to perform a task while maintaining a stable position.  One’s ability to balance is influenced by vision, the inner ear (vestibular) system, and other sensory input including the joints ability to detect location or movement, defined as proprioception. 

Test Your Balance

  • Stand on one foot, trying to hold this position for 20-30 seconds.  If you can maintain balance for this amount of time, notice the amount of movement or sway in your body.  You may also try standing on an unstable surface such as a pillow or trampoline.
  • Try standing on one foot with your eyes closed.  Can you hold this position for 20-30 seconds without opening your eyes or touching down with your opposite foot?
  • Try testing your dynamic balance by standing on one foot and reaching as far as possible with your opposite leg to touch points in front, behind, and to either side of the stance leg.
  • Stand on one foot and reach down to the floor to pick up objects just out of your reach.
  • Make sure you test both legs- there may be a difference in dominant and non-dominant sides.

Improve Your Static Balance

  • Find your weaknesses and incorporate a balance routine to your training.  Try 5-10 repetitions of 30 seconds for the following exercises
  • Work on your single leg balance first on a stable surface, progressing to eyes closed
  • Progress to an unstable surface- at home; use a thick pillow or trampoline.  At the gym use a wobble board, rubber disc, or BOSU ball (a blue half-sphere found at most gyms)

Improve Your Dynamic Balance

  • Throw and catch a ball standing on one leg
  • Squat or lunge on an unstable surface
  • Perform upper body strength moves while standing on one leg and/or on a wobble board
  • Stand on one leg with several objects lined up in front of you; slowly reach down to pick up and return each object, trying not to let your opposite foot touch the ground.

Incorporating balance work into a training program can result in fewer injuries and improved performance.  Sports specific balance programs should be tailored to an individual athlete.  A physical therapist or athletic trainer can help identify weaknesses and design a program accordingly. 

If you’d like more information about Louisville Orthopaedic Clinic and Sports Rehab Center, click on our banner ad at the top of the page to be directed to our website. You can also find us on Facebook.

- Courtesy of Erin Fidler MPT Louisville Orthopaedic Clinic and Sports Rehab Center


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