By Ada Coonerty Women are at Greater Risk for Falls Balance training should be incorporated into exercise programs, especially in midlife and later, to decrease the risk of falling. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, NASM, the number of falls increases with age and is proportionately higher in women. People are more likely to fall as they grow older because of common, age-related physical changes and medical conditions such as osteoporosis, as well as reaction time deficits to being off balance. Our Balance Declines with Age I became passionate about balance training when I was suddenly confronted with balancing on a 2X3 single wood plank from our fishing boat onto the docking platform. No big deal, right? I couldn’t believe how my entire body was off balance. I immediately asked for help crossing. Lacking confidence in my own body’s ability to balance, made me feel helpless. When did I stop trusting my balance? Truth is, most adults don’t even think about their balance until they fall. When we are young, we don’t even think about walking/running up or down the stairs, but gradually we start holding onto the handrail for support. Balance decline doesn’t happen overnight. Our balance begins to decline after our 40s. After the age of 65, a woman’s chance of falling each year is about one in three. There's Good News! We can Regain our Confidence in our Balance Functional Balance Training involves doing exercises that strengthen the muscles which help keep you upright, including your legs and core. These types of exercises can improve stability and help prevent falls. Take this Simple Balance Test When was the last time you tested your balance? Give this a try. Set a timer and see how long you last standing on your left or right foot. If you don’t last more than five seconds, you can benefit from balance training. Try doing the same exercise, this time closing your eyes, moving your head to the right and left. How did that feel? Functional Balance: Prevent Falls, Strengthen Your Core, Knees, and Ankles Functional balance training will not only help you prevent falls, but it helps strengthen your core, knees, and ankles. According to my Integrated Balance Training with NASM, Balance can be categorized into two parts: Static: which is the maintenance of stability in stationary positions; Dynamic: which is the maintenance of stability during movement. When we perform balance training, the neuromuscular system is being trained. The brain, spinal cord, and nerves are being trained to communicate with the muscles, encouraging them to respond quicker and more efficiently. Our body becomes trained at knowing exactly how many muscle fibers to recruit at the precise moment they are needed. The point is to give the body a chance to be off-balance in order to create a movement pattern that then becomes efficient in promoting balance. We have multiple dimensions of balance which include: Voluntary postural control – static - such as standing; Voluntary postural control – dynamic - leaning or moving; Anticipatory postural control - stabilizing the body in preparation for making a voluntary movement; Reactive postural control - responding to an unexpected threat to balance; and Sensory reception and combination - this is a person’s ability to use visual, vestibular, and somatosensory inputs to control upright stance. Functional balance training will help with our lunges, single-leg deadlifts, and so many other common exercises we do, and sometimes need help by holding on to a chair or wall for balance support. My Integrated Balance Training has taught me that it is imperative that we focus on three categories: 1. Stabilization – working on single leg balance, single-leg balance with multiplanar reach, single-leg lift, and chop. 2. Strength – working on single-leg squat, single-leg squat touchdown step-up to balance, lunge to balance. 3. Power – single-leg hop with stabilization, single leg box-hop with stabilization. Whether you are working on stabilizing your lunges or single-leg deadlifts, or you have osteoporosis and would like to strengthen your legs, ankles, and core, or you simply would like to walk on a 2X3 wood plank from your boat onto a floating dock without fear you will fall like me, this program is for you. We can all use some Balance in our lives. For more information about the program, please click here. The Balance program opens on 4/4. Have any questions or concerns? I am here for you: firstname.lastname@example.org Yours, Ada
Ada Luz Coonerty-Vazquez - Trainer CPT, CIBI A 48 y/o mother of two and married to a supportive husband. Ada is a Personal Trainer, Insanity Live Instructor, P90X Live Instructor, and PIYO Live Instructor. "Every day for the past ten years I wake up absolutely loving what I do - Fitness. There are two words I do not have in my vocabulary, "I Can't." Rather than saying, "I can't," I believe in saying, I will try, this is a struggle but I will practice, I will modify. I look forward to working out with you all and having fun while doing it!!