Don't slip on the ice... Balance Exercises to keep you upright!
When the ice and snow starts to hit the ground, emergency rooms across the country are dealing with a huge number of injuries associated with slips and falls.
Improving your balance and proprioception (reaction time and awareness of balance) can be as easy as practicing to balance on one leg with your eyes closed. Each joint in the body has receptors that tell the brain where the joint is and has nerves that loop back to the corresponding muscles to react to body movement to keep you upright. Vision is the strongest of the receptors, and most individuals rely on this. In order to improve specifically the joint receptors (e.g. In your ankles or knees) closing your eyes while doing strength training exercises can help to improve your balance for this upcoming winter season.
For higher-level athletes in sports that require more advanced balance and proprioception, it is critical for injury prevention to include very challenging balance exercises in their strength training programs. In order to recruit all portions of their muscles (including the portion that stabilizes the joints and keeps the movements smooth), any exercises where the athlete has to struggle to stabilize will help prepare them for the balancing demands of their sport, as well as strengthen all core stabilizing muscles.
Advanced Superman Kneeling on the Stability Ball
While stabilizing with one knee on the ball and both hands, the athlete extends one leg off the ball and behind them. While trying to maintain a straight spine, abdominals pulled in, the athlete then extends in front of them the opposite arm. Focus is to extend out rather than up and to increase the time able to hold the position. Great to strengthen back extensors, hip and shoulder stabilizers and core musculature.
Stability Ball Lunges with Trunk Rotation
With back foot and shin up on the ball and opposite leg lunged out in front, the athlete lowers into a lunge ensuring to line up the hip, knee and ankle joints in a straight line. The body weight should be evenly distributed between both thighs throughout the movement. In addition to the lunge the athlete is advancing the exercise by adding trunk rotation while stabilizing with the shoulders and arms a weight. This exercise is great for improving weight bearing balance and lower body and core musculature.