balancing

Top 4 ProBar moves to improve your balance

balancing

Did you take last week’s quick 3 self-screening tests? Do it now by clicking HERE.

If you or someone you know had a hard time with the balance (first screen, the other two being balance and functional breathing), here’s a quick recap of what the test is and what it does: put on your socks, or take them off, while standing, without assistance from anything or anyone. Simple. Not easy for all.

WHAT IS THE TEST?

As some have reported to us, it wasn’t just their balance that was the issue, but they’re mobility (or lack thereof) and even lack of flexibility. One person described their low back screaming at them as if it were an IED! Another nearly fainted from holding their breath (indicating a high level of tension/stiffness), so you see how all 3 elements are tied for overall wellness, well-being and shan’t be taken for granted.

WHAT DOES THE TEST INDICATE?

This isn’t a simple test of balance, like standing on one leg, rather balance AND mobility. What is being tested is unilateral (“each side”) ankle mobility, as well as that of the hip and knee. The upper body also is engaged, one way or another, relaxed or stiff, and we’re looking for the ability to flex the spine without pain. One person reported not being able to do it, to testing themselves again and doing it with a very straight back. While accomplishing the task is functionally a milestone, the stiff back is a potential indicator of hypo-mobility (not enough), therefore another area makes up for it by being hyper-mobile (too much). So, functionally, yes, but technically, no bueno! We can even speculate that a stiff back leads to a held breath, braced, shallow (and thus leading to fainting).

HOW DO WE MAKE IT BETTER?

In the case of a stiff low, or even upper back, or a generally ram-rod stiff spine, the kind that makes you move like Batman in its original suit (Michael Keaton’s or Christian Bale’s in Batman Begins), spinal decompression is a simple go-to.

You can:

– Hang from a pull-up bar: do a couple scapular retractions then just hang with no other effort than your grip. Let the entire body “sink low”. You can even gently twist from side to side.

– Lie on a Swiss ball/resistance ball and gently letting yourself roll backwards (towards the head, or the ground below your head) to rebuild a bit of back extension.

– Hang inverted (inversion table, or with boots strapped to a pull-up bar).

These options are simple, fairly passive and provide relief.

better option is where you engage the muscles and restore the movement quality by actually engaging the muscles. Such exercises can be:

– Hip bridge: lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat. Drive your hips up and squeeze your buttocks. It will open up your hips and engage the low back as well.

– “Drawing in” maneuver followed by tuck-roll: in the same position as above, place a folded towel under the small of your back. Push down, as if trying to push your belly button into the floor. Hold for a few seconds then release. Repeat up to five times, then tuck your knees into your chest as much as you can, give your shins a big hug and roll back and forth to restore the flexion/extension balance.

These are beneficial regardless and worth doing simply because of what our modern lifestyle is. We still need to work on the lower extremity.

A gentle way of improving, ankle, knee and hip mobility, if you’ve done the above moves, is to stay on your back, knees bent, feet flat, and do the following:

– Ankle Circles: cross one ankle on the opposite knee (you will form a figure 4 with your legs) and do ankle circles. You can do those assisted by using your hand (more range of motion can be obtained) or by using your mind power to circle with the ankle (more muscular activation).

– Knee Circles: lift one leg up and hold its hamstrings with both hands, and perform knee circles.

– Hip Circles: a little tougher, you’ll feel the core engage more on this one. Let go of your hold on the mammies and just circle the hip. You can go wide and drop the leg close to the ground for an even greater ROM (Range Of Motion).

Repeat on both sides, of course.

Now, all these are good, but what if we could take care of all of this in  half these moves while engaging your musculature and getting you prepped for a proper workout?

Here are the ProBar moves that can take care of your spine and major lower body joints in one fell swoop!

Please note: we are not working on “balance” per se, which would be the obvious choice. Instead, we focus on the “pre-balance” aspect, making sure you can be stable and structurally solid. You can’t balance without a solid foundation, otherwise it’s only a house of cards!

While you can work on pure balance exercises to improve your balance, you’re really only studying for the test and while your balance may improve, a healthy and functional individual should be able to pass “socks on/socks off” test without having to work at it. The lack of balance stems from a movement dysfunction that infringes upon the ability to do this “freely”.

TOP 4 PROBAR MOVES TO IMPROVE YOUR BALANCE:

– Prone Shoulder Press: for spinal health strength and alignment.

– Front Lever Squat: for ankle, knee and hip mobility in a quad-dominant move.

– Hinge & Press: for a hip-dominant move with spinal strength and alignment.

– Ankle-threading: simple yet effective ankle mobility exercise that also isolates and self-assesses your progress. This exercise is featured in this sample routine that happens to work both mobility and balance at once.