Balancing Act: Functional Fitness
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Everything in life seems to be a balancing act: family, work, friends, the checkbook! (Well, I’m still old school and use a checkbook.) How many times do you think of your health as a balancing act? From your exercise routine, daily diet, hormones, to your spiritual life and relationships, you must find the proper balance to live a healthy and fulfilling life.
Stepping off the curb – or for some of us more gracefully-challenged souls, walking across the parking lot – takes some degree of balance. Balance is something that most people are born with and develop in the first few years of life. As we age, we begin to lose balance at a steady rate.
THE 4 PRIMARY COMPONENTS OF GOOD BALANCE ARE:
1) Proprioception (the bodies awareness in space) – coordination, agility, balance
2) Vestibular system (inner ear) – controls equilibrium, balance, and your orientation to upright
4) Strength – primarily core, hip, and ankle
If you are deficient in any of the four, the body must compensate through the other three components to maintain balance. This is like someone who is blind developing a good sense of smell and hearing to make up for their inability to see. While some people are either born with or work hard to develop (like professional athletes) these balance components, not all people will ever reach superior components of balance.
As we age and become more sedentary; Proprioception, vision, strength, and the Vestibular system begin to decline. As balance declines in older adults, fear of falling promotes lack of movement which in turn weakens the systems further. This can be delayed by exercising and maintaining each system through Functional Training.
Functional (or balance) Training isn’t just beneficial to professional athletes and the elderly. Kids benefit greatly from functional training as it aids in their physical development. You will see children excel in sports at a higher rate with fewer injuries in comparison to their classmates who overlook this aspect of training.
It’s also important for us “middle agers” who are still competing in recreational sports. How many friends do you know (25-55 age groupers) who have come home from a weekend ski trip or flag football game with a torn ACL or “pulled” hamstring? Functional training is a key element in the prevention of these types of injuries.
We tend to move in forward and backward movement patterns (Sagittal Plane) during our basic exercise routines of weight / strength training and cardio training while neglecting lateral and diagonal movement exercises (Frontal and Transverse Planes). By implementing some functional training into your workouts, you can add that extra insurance and edge lacking in your fitness. Ask any of my clients, you get an AMAZING workout by adding a little balancing act to your routine.
Everyone must grow, adapt and change as our bodies’ age, finding the “new” balance along the way. Change is hard especially when what used to work for you in the past has become just that – a thing of the past. Don’t be so stuck in your routine that you fail to find a healthier (and happier) balance in your life and risk your health.
Feel free to contact me with any questions regarding balance training or functional training, or schedule training sessions with me!
For more information, contact:
Kim Clinkenbeard, CPT, FNS