Maintaining good balance is essential particularly as we age. I'm passionate about ensuring that all my Pilates clients maintain and challenge their balance constantly during their Pilates training. In a nutshell, if you aren't actively working on improving your balance regularly you are putting yourself at greater risk of a fall, which could lead to broken bones, paralysis, head injuries and potentially be fatal This is horrible to think about but is all entirely preventable with balance training in Pilates. When you focus on it, balance improves very quickly and it can be personally rewarding to see how much progress you can make. JS Mind Body Pilates my Online Pilates studio incorporates plenty of challenging balance training exercises for all levels, so take the free 10 day trial now to start your training. Alternatively, please feel free to contact me at [email protected], if you have any questions about starting Pilates balance training for your individual needs.
Belinda, my Pilates client of more than 10 years, who shared her inspirational Pilates journey "Back Pain Towards Black Belt" more than 2 years ago now, has also kindly shared her personal balance experience. She understands first hand what it is like to have to regain your balance and proprioception following an injury, but it is also entirely possible and extremely empowering to achieve this.
If you were an active kid, like me, you were most likely challenging your balance constantly. For me, imaginative play and sport helped develop my balancing skills. Competitions to see who could stand on one leg for the longest time pretending the ground was lava, walking along low, narrow brick fences & learning martial arts were all ways I built my balancing skills – I just didn’t realise it at the time. It didn’t matter if I fell over, I’d laugh, jump right up and try again.
As we get older, busy days and sedentary jobs can leave us very little time for sport, training or play. Our mind can still think we’re as capable in our balance as we were as kids, but without being challenged, our muscle memory weakens and we place ourselves at risk of more serious injuries should we fall. The great news is that there is so much opportunity for us to improve our balance – and it doesn’t matter when you get started! I know this from personal experience. I sustained a serious knee injury 3 years ago and the resulting knee reconstruction meant I was unable to place any weight on my injured leg for 8 weeks. In that time, my leg muscles had atrophied, the nerves in my foot felt like I was walking on glass and I no longer moved with confidence. My weakened state meant I became extremely anxious walking on uneven ground or wet surfaces. I did slip a few times while walking in the rain and I found myself far less able to recover. I was petrified that I would fall over and reinjure myself.
Pilates to the rescue! I was working closely with Joanne throughout my recovery, in consultation with my physiotherapist’s surgery recovery protocol and part of my Pilates training focused on my balance. We started with me just trying to lift one foot off the ground to reactivate my stabilizing muscles and re-awaken my proprioception (my body’s awareness of my position through movement). Then we performed the same movement with my eyes closed. Over time we moved to me standing on one leg with Jo throwing a ball to me. Then we moved to the Bosu ball and balance board…. it was an achievement just balancing on two feet on those initially! Next came standing on one leg, then moving into different poses while balancing on one leg on the ball or board. Having me do squats on my full foam roller is another way Jo challenges my balance.
I would treat all of it as a game and still do. I challenge myself to see how long can I balance for, whether I can balance more smoothly this time than last time. I only need to be better for 1 second longer each time. Add that up over a year and that’s a vast improvement!
These days, I’m moving with so much more confidence. I play with my balance a lot even during regular daily activities; if you see a lady standing on one leg in the supermarket queue, that might be me! With Pilates complementing my surgery rehabilitation protocol, I returned to Martial Arts which gives me the opportunity to put all my balancing skills to work. Best of all, I no longer freak out when walking across an uneven pavement in the rain.
It’s never too late to get started and there are only great things to be gained by training your balance.
Take your time, make it fun and enjoy moving with confidence.
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