Can balance training impair our balance?
Hi there: Recently I wrote about how we do not use balance training to the same extent as we once did. We know recognize some of the limitations of balance training and will incorporate it in specific situations whether it be for a rehab purpose or to challenge the extremities of the upper body. For a healthy, competitive athlete, stable ground contact is preferred.
When we are performing an upper body exercise from a standing position we want to ensure stability throughout the trunk with the upper extremities in motion. The more load we can handle without motion at the trunk is a measure of our core stability. The first picture below demonstrates good core stability while performing an alternating row exercise while the second one is of a chest press.
In the first picture the pull is in front an therefore the extensors of the low back and the scapular (shoulder blade) muscles must be activated to prevent the trunk from being pulled forward.
In the second picture the pull is from behind the body and therefore we need to engage the front side muscles so the trunk does not get pulled back on the recovery phase.
With both of these exercises you should ask yourself three things:
1. Am I able to maintain a neutral spine throughout?
2. Are my arms the only source of motion?
3. If the cables snapped unexpectedly would I lose balance?
The last question underscores the reason to ditch the balance toy when performing these exercises. 99% of the time when we see someone performing a pull or a push exercise while standing on a balance toy they are balancing on the cables rather than being balanced on their feet. If the cables were to snap on them they would lose balance and fall or step off. Most of our daily activities and competitive sports require stable footing at the ground and mobility through the arms to transfer or release power. Imagine swinging a golf club on wet grass while wearing flip flops. Or throwing a bag of garbage to the curb while standing on ice.
Both of these last two images convey very nicely the reason we want stability at the ground and mobility through the extremities, regardless of whether it be for sport performance or daily activity.
Always interested in your feedback.