How To Improve Balance

One of the most difficult problems for a lot of people is that they have trouble balancing. Whole workouts are predicated on doing little more than teaching people how to be aware of their body’s relation to the ground, and it is a staple skill for dancers and other athletes to be able to find their balance instantly.

Balance isn’t an unknowable force, however. It is a part of how we move through the world that you can enhance, becoming more graceful and agile as well as improving your physical health.

Yes4All Stability Disk

What Balance Is

A person’s sense of balance, despite what you may think, has little to do with their feet and legs. Instead, balance originates in the inner ear where something called the vestibular system exists. The vestibular system is your body’s way of telling how close to the middle of every point of contact with the ground your center of gravity is.

The first step in improving your balance is to become aware of your vestibular system, paying close attention to how your head feels in various positions. While this is difficult at first, eventually it becomes second nature to feel where you are in relation to the ground and your center of gravity.

Trampolines

There are a number of exercises that can be used to improve your balance, but few are as good as using backyard trampolines or indoor rebounders.

Perhaps the most obvious reason goes back to what balance is: your perception of how close to even your center of gravity is between all of your points of connection to the ground. Trampolines, rebounders, and anything with a stretched membrane work by making the ground deform and retract slightly based on your movement. This allows your body to naturally start to gain a sense of the unconscious shifts necessary to maintain that equilibrium. Just walking on these can help you learn to adjust your body position to compensate for changes in the terrain.

But, of course, what good is a trampoline if you don’t jump on it? The jumping provides another strategy for learning how to balance. In this case, the up and down motion helps your body adjust in anticipation of a particular terrain. While you are in the air, you are making calculations that you don’t even realize and learning to adjust your body position in slight ways to land safely and even increase your height. Our instinctive understanding of observed physical properties tells us that the best jumps happen when your center of gravity is poised between points of contact with the mat, what we might otherwise call “perfectly balanced,” and trampolines give you a chance to learn to control that as well as a measure of how well you’re doing.

Core Exercises

Have you ever seen a ballerina’s abs? They tend to be highly defined and very, very strong. Much of balance comes from having strong core muscles, a term referring to the muscle groups in your torso like abs, pectorals, and even shoulders.

Since most people’s center of gravity is in their torso, having a powerful core provides an opportunity to make tiny balance corrections by engaging your stomach or back muscles. Doing core exercises like crunches and planks can significantly improve balance. Try to avoid sit-ups, though, since they can not only hurt your back, but also work your hip flexors more than your core.

Learn to Juggle

This seems a little strange, but learning to juggle can actually help improve a very specific kind of balance: neurophysical balance. This is how your brain and your body work together to keep you from wobbling. Learning how to juggle helps you get a sense of how tiny movements can have large effects on a system as well as teaches your body how to keep the center of gravity between points.

The other benefit is that is can be a very impressive party trick.

Gaining Balance Carefully

Like with any other skill, it’s important to recognize that you will not become a master over night. It will take you several hours on the trampoline or throwing apples in the air. However, if you’re dedicated, you can improve your balance significantly.

Trampoline Parks: A Healthy Trend?

Trampolining used to be something that was relegated to backyards and workout videos.

Today, the growing trend of trampoline parks has made a name as the optimal blend of family fun and fitness, with NewsUSA reporting that parks are growing by “leaps and bounds”.

Despite the increasing popularity and health benefits, there are still safety concerns that may make some parents and individuals balk at entering one of the parks.

Below we discuss Sky Zone, the leading trampoline park of today, along with health benefits and safety concerns.

Sky Zone

Sky Zone has made a huge impact on the trampoline park industry. Although bouncing up and down for exercise and fun wouldn’t typically conjure images of reality TV royalty, that is exactly where Sky Zone got its start.

Real Housewives of Orange County star, Alexis Bellino, started the business with her husband, Jim, and the two currently own Sky Zone Sports Anaheim and Sky Zone San Diego.

Visitors don’t need to be Hollywood elite to enjoy their visit, or even have a penchant for anything involving glamour. Still, frequent visits to the indoor park may just lead to Hollywood figure worthy of “Best Beach Body Lists”.

With Sky Zone meshing trampolining with sports and exercises like dodgeball, basketball and acrobatics, the park offers an optimal workout that is as effective as it is fun.

Health

Various health benefits are associated with the exercise practiced at Sky Zone and other trampoline parks. These benefits include:

Circulation and Cardiovascular Health
Academia cited various studies which purport the cardiovascular benefits of trampolining.

Trampolining increases heart rate and circulatory flow in a way that is extremely beneficial, and fulfills optimal levels of fitness in a short period of time.

Furthermore, the benefits of trampolining as a form of fitness “…satisfies the American College of Sports Medicine criteria for improvement of cardiorespiratory conditions.”

Sky Zone Trampoline Park exemplifies these benefits, allowing heart rates to increase which leads to greater blood flow and circulation. Also, the low impact of trampolining as exercise is a better alternative for bone and joint health as opposed to higher impact exercises like running.

Improves Balance and Coordination

Being more liable to toppling over isn’t such a bad thing. In fact, the heightened awareness trampolining brings to an individual’s center of gravity can improve balance and coordination exponentially. Moreover, greater balance and coordination is beneficial to bilateral motor skills.

Mental Health and Autism

It probably comes as no surprise that bouncing up and down can make one feel happy, and there’s research that trampolining actually poses exponential benefits to health and wellness.

An article from Your Doc Medical notes that trampolining is the perfect exercise for releasing chemicals known as endorphins, which alleviate stress and create an overall sense of wellbeing.

Other reports and studies are noting that the exercise can also help alleviate symptoms associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder. So much so, in fact, that Lakeside Center for Autism in Isaaquah, Washington has utilized trampolines as part of their therapy.

Other Benefits

Other benefits of trampolining as a form of exercise include:
•    Increased immunity
•    Improvement in gastrointestinal health
•    Promotion of better sleep cycles

Parental Concerns

Despite the benefits of trampolining and the fun array of activities available at trampoline parks like Sky Zone, many parents may find themselves concerned by safety risks and potential for injury.

In 2012, Today reported on the tragic loss of one mother’s son after a somersaulting into a shallow foam pit in a trampoline park located in Phoenix, Arizona led to fatal consequences.

To prevent injury and address concerns, Sky Zone posted a video outlining their guidelines on YouTube, which reviews waiver procedures and other ways to maintain safety, such as:
•    Be sure that jumpers are separated by size
•    Be aware of surroundings
•    Participate with jumpers similar in size
•    Before entering a court, empty pockets and discard any gum or other food/candy items in your mouth
•    Do not wear jewelry
•    Contain jumps to trampolines and do not climb up the walls
•    If bouncing off a side walls, always land on the trampoline closest to the wall being bounced off of
•    Do single flips, not double
•    Do not attempt any “trick” or exercise outside of comfort zone or familiarity
•    Avoid any kind of horseplay
•    Do not sit or lie on the court
•    Always listen to court monitors

When in doubt, ask questions and do research before visiting a trampoline park.