Balance, Coordination, Stability, Strength...
These are just a few of the words that surround us today in the health and fitness industry. These words are very general and hold different meanings based on an individual's experience. And while it's important to understand the meanings behind each of these, it is also paramount that you understand the hierarchy. We believe there is a very specific order that one must approach the human body if one's goal is to achieve any benefit from their time in the gym.
Today we will dive into the conversation around balance, coordination, stability and strength as they pertain to the senior population. This population of individuals has an even greater need to understand these topics.
Let's get started with BALANCE.
Balance is "an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady"; or "a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions." Let's be very clear that only one of these definitions works when we are talking about the human body and that is the first. Balance in the human body is nothing more then an even distribution of one's weight over one's support. This holds true if you are on one foot or two feet or maybe even two feet and a hand. It is an ever-changing configuration of body parts that ends up yielding a stabilizing force over your "support".
Here is what you want to take away from this: Balance is not a magical predetermined position for your body. It is dynamic and always changing. More on this later as we dive into the other words we hear in the industry.
COORDINATION is up next...
Coordination is "the organization of the different elements of a complex body or activity so as to enable them to work together effectively." This one is not so bastardized in the fitness industry as the above. Coordination is an important part of any training program and it relies heavily on the next two items.
Stability is "the state of being stable". Well, okay then. Stability is also key when working with the human body. Without stability, most of what we do in the gym will be for nothing. Stability is a big part of creating safe sustainable results in the body. And guess what... without the final topic, you can't have any of the above.
And the one that creates them all.....STRENGTH!
Strength is the key!! We all know what it means to be strong, so no definition needed. Strength is the foundation upon which each of the above is built.
If we take a look at balance and what makes it such a dynamic state, it comes down to your strength. The stronger you are, at every joint in your body, the more options your body has to create balance. Not "balance" like "this side looks like this side", but balance like you step on an unstable surface and you stay upright instead of end up on your ass with a broken hip. Or you step up a step and are able to efficiently transfer your force without having to hold the railing for dear life. Strength gives rise to balance. You can take the case that without strength, there is no balance. It is impossible!
Stability is closely related to balance. Where balance is more static in nature, stability is going to be more along the lines of you being able to stabilize your body as you move through space. The less strength you have, the harder it becomes to move, and sometimes becomes impossible. Take a look at an older individual taking a walk down the sidewalk: often it is short steps shuffling in a very methodical way. Now look at a young adult: probably with no patterns at all, just going with the flow and taking nice long strides without thinking about it.
The take away - If you want to become more stable with a greater ability to balance your body as you move through space, you must must must first address your strength.
We will discuss where to start in later post. You can now check out the post, "The Foot... The key to unlocking balance and stability in your body."
Yours in health and fitness,