Good day CAMPers, after a little accident last week that left my right knee a little tweaked, I thought it would be a good idea to go over the importance of balance training. The tweak happened while playing a pickup game of 2 v 2 rugby last week, which I don’t recommend unless you plan on running…the WHOLE time! It was a great time, but what could have ended in a bad sprain, or torn ligaments was luckily only a minor hyperextension injury. There are definitely some companies out there that I could thank for their products, but that would end up sounding like a run on Oscar speech.
Often a lack of flexibility or strength has to do with balance. Balance is affected by vision, the inner ear, and its proprioceptive systems. More often than not, vision is one that is easiest to train. Keep your eyes open so you’ll know where you are. If you want to test this out, just stand on one foot and close your eyes. How long can you stand before your body starts to sway? It’s usually pretty easy to tell when your inner ear isn’t working properly; when you are standing still either you, or object around seem to be spinning. If the body feels like this for too long, you’ll most likely get sick and possibly lose your lunch. Proprioception is your body being able to sense what other parts of your body are doing at any given time. For instance, if you are trail running on a very uneven and rocky path, it is your body’s ability to recognize the imbalances it faces, and trigger the necessary muscles needed to maintain balance and prevent injury. This wasn’t quite up to par when I injured myself last week, but did kick my butt back into my regular training program.
Proprioception training is very easy to include into your normal training routine. There are many manufactures and products out there to help with this: Togu, Bosu, Airex pad, Bongo Board, etc. Simple integration can be standing on one of these for your active rest, or performing squats, raises, or presses while standing on one or two feet. There really isn’t an end to the possibilities when training proprioception. It adds difficulty to just about any movement and, at the same time, is great for injury prevention. We make sure to incorporate Togu Mini Jumpers into all of our athletes auxiliary and most of their core strength exercises. This has shown great increases in strength and decreases in injuries.
Sean England General Manager / Performance Specialist CAMP, Building Better Athletes LLC