Hello my dear readers, I hope you all are enjoying the series so far just as we are enjoying bringing it to you. It is my pleasure to introduce to you this week (reintroduce for some) the Poison Ivy Women's Group. Seen today is the core of the group namely Nicola O'Connor, Thais Gutierrez, Jenna Ross (not in pics) and myself. Included are our Support Team, Candida Hamid and Lisa Bourne. I have highlighted Poison Ivy's fitness achievement before in this paper but let me say that they have earned their spot here today for another reason: they make your fitness writer work! I do consider myself disciplined when it comes to keeping fit, but whenever I train with this group I am now into sports, bringing 'alive' the components necessary to be competitive and successful as a team in more ways than one. I'll share with you that the very thought of letting my team mates down, is fuel enough for me to give my all in training – I guess that's what team sports inspire. We are hoping in the future to be seen as much more than just 'fit' women, but to use this fitness/lifestyle to inspire, motivate and impact positively upon other peoples' lives. See Fusion Adventure Races on FB.
Today's article focuses on a fitness component I believe you rarely read about, i.e. Balance. Balance is grouped under the Skill Related Components of Fitness and traditionally may not have been seen as a component that needs to be trained. But with the advent of 'core' and functional training, balance has become integral in conditioning efficient movement.
Balance represents the ability to stabilise and maintain a desired body position. It is the foundation upon which all movement is based. To maintain body equilibrium it takes a collaborative effort by our muscles during static and dynamic movement. Training on an unstable surface, for example, the BOSU Balance trainer, can allow this to occur, enhancing our balance, our kinesthetic sense and proprioception (the ability to perceive or feel movement and sense joint position & to be aware of body symmetry), and our ability to maintain an equalized position while controlling muscular force production regardless of the physical task at hand.
Having read the above, do you think you need to train for balance? More so, for Carnival? I know many of us are focused on how we look more than how we move, but balance training can enhance how you move/perform and thus can aid in the reduction of injuries or 'simple mishaps' that may occur on the road at Carnival time. Balance training recruits the core musculature, 'the unseen ones', to stabilise the body and thus develops stabilisation strength whether in motion or static. Vice versa, to balance well you have to call upon your core muscles. Here are some other benefits of balance training (BT):
• BT develops and keeps sensory feedback systems sharp and well trained. This translates to neuromuscular training that increases movement efficiency.
• BT requires a collaborative effort by your muscles which will result in improved posture and functional movement experiences. In real life situations you are rarely called upon to isolate musculature – (for playing mas this is true!)
• BT requires and integrated response from both the mind and body, resulting in "mindful training". • BT can introduce a sense of fun or play into a general fitness programme.
Some persons are affected by Balance disorders. These may be caused by many factors such as problems/infections in the inner ear, low and high blood pressure, head injury or vertigo, to name a few. Medications, maintaining a healthy weight and a healthy diet can help (after diagnosis of course). Aging is also a factor for loss of balance and thus including some form of balance work for the 'mature' would be ideal.
Whilst Balance training can be done using you own body, a variety of fitness tools can be used such as a stability ball, balance pads, balance discs and my favorite, the BOSU Balance Trainer. BOSU stands for 'Both Sides Utilized' and can be used on both sides as seen in pictures. I am a BOSU Master Trainer, which basically means that I can deliver workshops for the BOSU (entitled BOSU Integrated Balance Training) and can be found on the official BOSU website (www.bosu.com). This workshop seeks to demonstrate how the BOSU can be integrated into Cardiovascular, Strength, Muscular Endurance, Flexibility, Sport Conditioning and Core Training. If you haven't included balance work in your fitness program, give it a shot.
Patrice and Poison Ivy show some of the variations of the BOSU Balance Trainer in use.
Next week: How do you Tabata?