Quote: “In order to be wealthy, you must be healthy”
How can or will stability training (balance training) benefit me?
Stability training prepares the body and all its motor learning counterparts to be prepared for the normal movements of activities of daily living (ADL).
During muscle recruitment on stable or unstable surfaces, on one leg or 2 legs, there is a lot of neurological activation involvement of the central nervous system of messengers called neurons to the muscles. When one moves in life one's balance is constantly challenged, even during the mundane task of walking you are on one leg for a split second. The better balance and stability you have in your normal gait the better equipped you will be in life. Whether you are going from the car in snow or ice, going up and down stairs, carrying grocery bags/luggage, walking in the woods on trails on unstable surfaces with branches, pebbles, rocks to the more advanced environment with athletes twisting and turning on grass on one leg to marital arts, boxing or wrestling on a mat. The mat, woods, pebbles, ice, and branches are all examples of ADL on uneven surfaces. All these environments will require the ankle, knee and whole leg complex to be asked to fire much more muscular recruitment of balance and coordination.
One way the body transmits messages to the brain during movement is using mechanoreceptors. Mechanoreceptors are responsible for sensing distortion in the tissues through stretch, compression, or tension to the tissues and then to the nervous system. The muscular system and nervous system work in a manner as if you do not use it, you lose it! Because of this, one benefits greatly during ones training of simulating the stabilizing muscles in different ways. There are numerous different ways one can keep the muscular system and nervous system "oiled up" some ex. are performing an exercise on one leg, on a balance apparatus etc. There are numerous movements in life where stabilization of the body is called upon by training to prepare for the events you may encounter and not avoiding them in your training environment you will benefit greatly. Another additional benefit is because more muscles are working while performing stabilization exercises you are burning more calories which means, more success towards weight loss.
The training of the neuromuscular system during structured progressive balance training has demonstrated in research to prevent injuries in the body. The proof is in the pudding: One study of over 1000 soccer players showed a decrease of 88% of ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries in players performing neuromuscular training (balance training). In another study, participants using a balance disc during 6 weeks of training improved their ankle stability significantly helping to prevent future ankle strains. Their risk decreased because of their ankle improving neuromuscular control.
Another study showed a decrease of 36% per player of overall injuries in sports.
With proper systematic structured stability training one will greatly improve their nerve pathways to their muscular system. This will help one improve during their ADL and or sporting events. There is a fine line between properly structured stability training and jumping on a new fad standing on a physio ball juggling 3 balls with one eye closed calling it "stability training". This type of approach can get lost in the craze and become a circus performance rather than proper stability training. Remember most of your training should be ground based on 1 or 2 legs with slight variations to challenge the nervous and muscular systems together.
MS & BS Exercise Science and Health promotion,
CSCS & NASM- CFT
1. Mandelbaum BR, Silvers HJ, Watanabe D et al. Effectiveness of a neuromuscular and propriocetive training program in preventing the incidence of ACL injuries in female athletes. American Orthopedic Society of Sports Medicine, 2002
2. Junge A, Rosch D, Peterson L, Graf-Braumann T, Dvorak J. Prevention of soccer injuries: a prospective intervention study in youth amateur players. Am J Sports Med 2002;30(5):652-659
3. Kidgell D J, Horvath D M, Jackson B M, Seymour P J. Effect of six weeks of Dura Disc and mini-trampoline Balance Training on Postural sway in Athletes with Functional Ankle Instability. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2007:21(2) 466-469
4. Clark M A, Lucett C S, Corn J R. National Academy of Sports Medicine 3rd edition 2008