F & F: Balance
I really hope that this section of the blog will start to clear up some of the confusion that is going on in the fitness industry by a lot of half-truths and no real
understanding of the most commonly used terms in the fitness industry. I know one school says that "...you should need a license to use..." these terms. And they are
The term that we are going to look into is Balance. What is balance? Where does it happen? and we are going to (near the end of the post) list three of the biggest facts and fictional facts about balance.
What is balance?
Webster's defines balance as:
"The state of having your weight spread equally so that you do not fall
The ability to move or to remain in a position without losing control or falling
A state in which different things occur in equal or proper amounts or have an equal or proper amount of importance.”
So, when it comes to your body it's safe to assume that balance is your body's ability to keep you upright while performing work, and prevents you from falling over all the time. We learn all of this when we are mere children learning how to walk (we will get into this a little more in a bit). That is my short explanation of it.
Where does balance happen?
In short, everywhere. Every single muscle must fire properly for you to be standing upright, or moving, or doing work without you toppling over all the time. Your feet play an integral role in balancing the rest of your body and keeping you relatively straight. I use the term "relatively" only because of compensation which comes into play. I have seen and worked with customers where one shoulder is higher than the other, which is a telltale sign that something is not right in the skeleton and now the muscles that give support, allow movement, and protect from impact now must have a new firing solution in order for you to continue to do the work required. My job is to find the specific joint that doesn't quite understand how to keep that firing pattern and slowly get that function back up and running, so to speak.
These wonderful firing patterns, or packets, get preprogrammed when we are infants and learning the world around us. Our brains at this stage in life are writing the programming language for walking, running, eating, lifting, throwing, standing, sitting, falling, crawling, and everything else that we do daily without thinking. The problem is our brains are learning these wonderful things when our bodies are perfect, with no muscular compensations. So, our balance is set with the most perfect settings we will ever have in our lives, the second we get hurt our brains must come up with a new firing solution to keep us "balanced". So, you can you see balance really does not happen at any one place.
I hope you all can see that when a trainer throws you on a BOSU ball, or a wobble board and tells you this is for your balance there is some truth to it but what you are effectively doing is helping your compensation firing pattern become stronger in its current state. Which leads us to the Fact and Fiction part.
Below, I am going to list three facts and three fictional facts. First I am going to give you guys the Fictional facts:
Fictional Fact #1 - BOSU Balls/Wobble Boards work on balance. As I said above the BOSU Balls/Wobble Boards really work on strengthening your current state that your body is in. This is not to say that these two tools are not good to use, if you have "corrected" (and I use that term loosely) then these two tools can be wonderful tools for you.
Fictional Fact #2 - Single Legged Exercises increases stability. While the premises behind these exercises are great the fact that the actual joint(s) may be out of alignment and the muscles that support them may not be firing in proper sequence will have the same result as Fictional Fact #1.
Fictional Fact #3 - Walking Lunges Help with the stability in the core. This specific exercise is completely useless (OK so now that you have stopped clapping and cheering let's move on). The reason behind this insane remark is simple nowhere in life do we use this movement. It is completely unnatural for us to be taking such a huge step. And when we do, I have seen this time and time again, it exaggerates the imbalance (usually in the ankle) and gets the same effect as above.
Now for the three real facts about balance:
Real Fact #1 - Your Body Will Create New Patterns to Stay Straight. As I said above countless of times in this post. Your body will under all circumstances create new solutions to stay straight and without pain to do the job required. So, when you hurt yourself a new firing solution is being created to keep you upright and moving without any pain, regardless of the compensation. When you heal the firing solution stays the same because your body likes to be lazy.
Real Fact #2 – Balance doesn’t only happen in your “core”. To sum up this whole blog post your “core” or abdomen area is comprised to keep your spine stable, strong, and upright without it having exploding into 33 little pieces. Yes it does play a role into balancing out the different forces we place onto our bodies with our daily lives, but it not the be all that ends all when it comes to balance.
Real Fact #3 – Balance happens more on a neuromuscular level rather than just the muscular level. So, it is here, where the brain speaks with the muscle where balance really happens. It, for example, you have an erector muscle in the erector spinae group cannot fire properly your body will have tighten up other muscles to compensate for the lack of firing quality (let’s call it that for now). We can, and it is our jobs at Vio Fitness, to find these OFF muscles and turn them back ON so that you can lift that weight or feel better, because you are now evening out the work load and your body can now distribute the load forces properly so no more pain while lifting anything.
WOW! and I thought I wasn't going to have that much to say about this topic! Just to recap, please don't let the mass fitness industry tell you what is right or what works best for you. You are an individual with very specific idiosyncrasies that are unique to only you. At Vio Fitness we do our best to find out what you cannot do, make you stronger so you can do it, which in turn, let's you do want you want to do. I really hope that clears up a little of the fog.