Balance is the ability to maintain a controlled body position while performing a task. To do that, we need the ability to maintain controlled positions during both static (still) and dynamic (moving) activities.
A. Balance In Kids
Balance and coordination is developed very early. As babies we learn the basics such as tummy time, crawling, lifting our heads etc. As toddlers the balance and coordination start developing a lot quicker and in these developmental stages, children typically become involved in more complex and difficult activities that help them with growth and development. When a child lacks in these departments it can delay their development.
If the child however has good balance and coordination it allows for the correct postural responses when needed and allows the child to complete simple every day tasks as well as performing in good fine motor skills.
How is balance and coordination connected to learning in children?
If a child experiences trouble with body awareness, balance and coordination, crossing the midline and core muscle they generally tend to struggle with focus and attention in school.
Balance is fundamental to execute simple tasks such as sitting, standing, walking and playing so when a child lacks in these departments they struggle to pay attention to the task at hand because they are to focused on keeping their body balanced.
What are some indications for these children?
- Poor posture
- Poor fact retention
- Struggle to follow instructions.
How can I tell if my child has problems with balance and coordination?
- Clumsy, slow recovery after a fall
- Stiff movements, almost ‘robot like’
- Possible developmental delays
- Tries to avoid physical activity.
- Takes a little longer to master skills such as running, jumping and riding a bike etc.
- Struggles with team-work.
- Is a little more cautious of new activities, heights or apparatus.
- Finds it more challenging on different platforms such as steps, uneven ground or obstacles.
- Finds it challenging getting dressed while standing.
- Lower self esteem, scared to try new things.
B. Balance In Adults
People often neglect balance training, mostly because they don’t know or don’t understand the importance of balance training. Balance is a key component in fitness and general health and has a lot of benefits. Balance is a necessity for performing daily tasks, executing correct form in your training program as well as allowing your body to move correctly in daily life. Here are a few reasons to focus more on balance:
- Body Awareness – Body awareness is the sense of how your limbs are oriented in space, also known as proprioception. Knowing your body and how your muscles work can help you to be more aware and reduce the risk of injury.
- Coordination – Balance training requires your entire body to work together, otherwise you will fall or stumble.
- Joint Stability – Balance training promotes stables knees, ankles, hips, and shoulders. This can prevent a large array of injuries including sprained ankles and serious knee problems.
- Long-term general health – If you have more balance, you have more stability which can prevent falls and injuries. And taking all the factors into consideration you have over all a more fruitful and healthy life.
C. Balance In Seniors
- Reversing of age-related loss of balance:
As we get older, our ability to balance declines. Balancing is a complex skill that involves the body to work together. Balance is not just physical. To balance, your body needs your brain, muscles and inner part of your ear to work together and if its not properly trained the connection between these three gets lost and balance becomes a problem.
- Prevents falls and injuries:
Balance helps you to control your core and limbs more deftly. Good balance helps the body adapt easier to changes in body position adjustment and control. When your balance is working optimally, you can react quicker to slips, making it less likely to fall.
- Aids in correcting bad posture:
Due to lack of balance and core training mixed with a sedentary life and sitting in front of the computer and cell phone the whole day, the human posture takes a back seat. Many people develop limitations and poor posture like hunched shoulders, forward head, anterior pelvic tilt, and reduced upper-back mobility. When you work on balance, you are automatically starting to improve posture due to balance training activating the correct muscles during static and dynamic positions.
- Prevention Faster recovery from injuries:
When focusing on balance training, you’re automatically strengthening the joint and surrounding ligaments and muscles that creates a stable joint which will help prevent injuries such as sprained joints.
- Improves coordination:
Balance and coordination goes hand in hand and to have balance your whole body needs to work together as one unit which develops overall coordination. Coordination is important to perform daily tasks as well as keeping the body moving fluently and efficiently.
- Getting more out of your training session:
When balance is good, people are more efficient in their training sessions. Good balance consists of good core activation as well as effective muscle recruitment. When joints are stable, the core is strong, balance is firm then you’re automatically able to perform better, whether training heavier or longer.
Balance can also intensify a workout such as doing an exercise on an unstable platform, doing it on one leg or even with eyes closed.
- Increase in muscular power:
Balance can strengthen muscles, quickly increasing their power output. The more force they can exert, the faster you’ll be able to sprint and the higher you’ll be able to jump. Over- all balance is a key component not only in your daily lifestyle but also when you perform in the sports field or at gym.
Why is Pilates good for balance?
Due to the fact that balance is mostly core work, mindful and with precision and control – which are the principles of Pilates – Pilates offer the best method of training for improved balance, muscle endurance, coordination and control. Pilates is a fundamental part for the improvement of overall human movement such as core activation, correcting imbalances and posture, body awareness and controlling your movements.
All these aspects go hand in hand with balance to help the body function optimally.