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WOW – April 4th

07/04/2011

Complete for each leg:

1-minute Single Leg Balance
6 Single Leg Balancing Leg Sweeps
30 seconds Single Leg Balance w/Eyes Closed

How-to:

Warmup: None necessary.

Do you enjoy ankle sprains? Are you looking forward to taking a fall late in life and ending up with a fractured hip? Does feeling stable on your feet in any situation not interest you? Then stop reading.

For everyone else who wants to be stable and avoid ankle sprains and nasty falls, read on. Balance is crucial for everyday living, weight training, climbing, running, or even just walking around. Our bodies are constantly shifting positions unbeknownst to our conscious selves, and the better our balance during acute controlled instability, the better we’re able to sally forth and make the most of this life without worrying about tripping. So – I’ve got a simple single leg balance progression for you to work on today.

Remove your shoes and find an even surface to stand on. Put your hands on your hips.

“Grab” the floor with your foot. Think especially about creating a stable triangulated base between your small toe, your big toe, and your heel. Lift the other foot off the ground and keep that leg mostly straight. Put it either in front or in back of you – whichever feels less stable.

1. Keep it up until you’re able to stand for one minute without putting your other foot down or removing your hands from your hips.

2. Point the off foot forward, then slowly sweep it to the side of your body, externally rotating the hip that it’s attached to, then use internal rotation to bring it back pointing forward. When you can do six full sweeps without falling or taking your hands off your hips, move on.

3. Single leg balance with eyes closed. This can be tough, so start out by alternating eyes closed (EC)/eyes open (EO) in ever increasing intervals. So: E0 for 1 second; EC, 1 second; EO, 2 seconds; EC, 2 seconds; EO, 3 seconds… and so on until you’re able to make thirty seconds with your eyes closed. Make bigger interval jumps if it becomes too tedious and you’re improving fast enough.

Now switch legs and complete the full progression all over again.

A few things to remember:

  • Once you close your eyes, you’re shutting off a big portion of your proprioceptive input, and you’ll probably lose your balance. Note which way your balance shifts when you close your eyes and remember it for next time. Learn from it.
  • If you’re flailing like a madman, that’s not real balance. Keep your hands on your hips to really improve.
  • Balance should be trained on a regular basis. Try to work something like this into your daily routine, or train about once a week.

Variations:

If you’ve got excellent balance already and these drills are a breeze, up the difficulty. Do everything eyes closed. Do twenty leg sweeps instead of six. Do the drills on a slackline or balance beam. Later, we’ll work on more difficult progressions if this isn’t enough for you.

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