Many runners and other athletes don’t often think about balance. Runners, in particular, are mainly concerned with speed and endurance, not balance. Yet doing some balance training may help improve your proprioception, which is the perception of your body’s position and movement. This may make you a better runner, especially in difficult terrain, and may decrease your risk of falling and injury.
Most of the balance training(besides joggling) I do involves juggling while standing on one foot. I really believe this has helped improve my balance, and my joggling ability. I’ll sometimes spin around on one leg(while juggling), to make it more challenging and to improve my balance further. This is also a great reason to learn to juggle, since this kind of training improves both coordination and balance. I can juggle up to 4 balls on 1 leg, and I am working on 5. Doing high throws can make this extra challenging – I usually drop the balls.
I often do this at home for a few minutes every day, but I prefer doing this when going on hikes in the woods, often on a narrow or pointed section of a big rock outcropping. This can make it even more fun, as well as more challenging. I’ll do this after joggling around for several miles, or on days when I’m not joggling. As I often say, the great outdoors is my gym. If I bring my resistance bands with me on a hike, I can do a total body workout in the middle of the woods! This is especially wonderful if I’m on top of a big hill with a spectacular view of the countryside.
For beginners though, I recommend doing this at home or on flat surfaces. If you can’t juggle, try shadow-boxing or doing arm exercises on one leg. Even some strength-training can be done on one leg, but be careful if you have a bad knee. Don’t start doing anything crazy on rocks. Work up to it gradually; slipping and banging your knee against a big rock doesn’t feel gneiss.
As I said before, doing some balance training may help prevent falls. In fact, among the elderly, not being able to balance yourself on one leg predicts injuries from falls. So people of all ages can benefit from this. For a more detailed look at this, check out: The Benefits of Balance Training for Runners, at RunnersConnect. There are many different types of balance training, and this just scratches the surface.
If you are learning to joggle and are making slow progress, some balance training may help improve your joggling ability.
What kind of balance training do you do, if any?