Balance requires cooperation between your stabilizing and mobilizing muscles. As your mobilizers perform movements, your stabilizers have literally got your back, counterpoising your spine and helping you maintain equilibrium. Without this agreement between muscle groups, your body goes to war with itself, and your balance suffers the consequences. A combination of targeted core training and trunk rotation exercises will help you develop dynamic balance.
Anterior Oblique System
Three muscles participate in the cooperative relationship known as the anterior oblique system. The core muscles, called the internal obliques, stabilize your spine and assist your external obliques in trunk rotation. Your abdominal region's connective tissue creates a diagonal bridge between your external oblique and the opposite inner thigh. When these muscles work in concert they provide gait stability and mobility. During the swing stage of gait, this muscle team rotates your pelvis and pulls your leg forward. Switching from walking to running increases anterior oblique system activity.
Hundreds of oblique curls and inner thigh lifts won't improve your balance until you teach these muscles how to play together. Workouts that simultaneously engage your inner thighs and obliques will reinforce this relationship. Start with basic exercises like the oblique curl and inner thigh squeeze. Lie supine with a medicine ball, a coated flexible metal Pilates fitness circle or a child's medium-sized ball between your legs. Place your hands behind your head. Inhale to prepare. Exhale, lift and rotate your upper torso to the left. Simultaneously contract your left inner thigh. Do 10 reps on each side.
Unstable Surface Training
Your core muscles stabilize your body, but they subscribe to the "use it or lose it" philosophy. Ignore them and the resulting balance loss can lead to muscle imbalance and injuries. Unstable surface training shows your core muscles that you still love them. Devices such as stability balls, half balls, balance discs and balance boards impose a stability challenge that gives your core muscles a wake-up call. Use this type of equipment for standing and seated trunk rotations, but stay near a wall or use a spotter for safety.
Seated Ball Rotation
Choose a stability ball that allows you to sit upright with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle. Sit on the ball with your feet hip-width apart and your arms crossed at chest height. Draw your belly in and rotate your upper torso to the right. Return to center and repeat. To kick it up a notch, add a ball or fitness circle between your legs and contract your inner thighs as you rotate.The American Council on Exercise suggests incorporating resistance training into balance programs. Hold a weighted medicine ball to add oblique resistance training to this exercise. Do 10 reps on each side.
Standing trunk rotation and balance exercises such as the rotational lunge directly correlate with athletic movements and activities of daily living. Hold a weighted medicine ball with your arms extended at shoulder height. Keep your torso upright, bend both knees and lunge forward with your right foot. Hold the lunge and rotate your upper torso to the right and left. Center your trunk, return to the start and switch legs. As your external obliques rotate your torso, your inner thighs and internal obliques stabilize your knees and pelvis. Do as many reps as you can without wobbling.
- Active Anatomy: Anterior Oblique System
- University of New Mexico: Super Abs Resource Manual
- IDEA Fitness: How To Improve Proprioception
- American College of Sports Medicine: Selecting and Effectively Using A Stability Ball
- American Council on Exercise: Designing Balance Exercise Programs for Older Adults
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