Exercises to Improve Balance

Exercises to Improve Balance

Exercises to Improve Balance

Most people perform exercise to improve strength, endurance, speed and power, but one element of fitness which is often overlooked is balance. Balance is a critical part of human movement from young children learning to walk, elite athletes performing difficult skills, to elderly people requiring balance to prevent falls.

Balance is affected by the complex interaction of the body’s sensorimotor control systems including proprioception (touch), vision (sight) and the vestibular system (motion, equilibrium, spatial orientation). Therefor, in order to improve balance it is necessary to train all 3 of these systems.
The following set of exercises progresses from beginner, intermediate to advance and focuses on improving balance by challenging each of these sensorimotor systems both in isolation and together.

Beginner

• Stand on one foot 30 secs
• Stand two feet together on unstable surface 30 secs
• Stand two feet together eyes closed 30 secs

Intermediate

• Stand on one foot throwing and catching a ball against a wall
• Stand on one foot on unstable surface 30 secs
• Stand on one foot eyes closed 30 secs

Advanced

• Stand one foot, eyes closed on unstable surface 30 secs
• Double leg squat on unstable surface
• Single leg squat

Exercises To Improve Balance

Written by Jack Hickey
Exercise Physiologist at MD Health

Injury Prevention Advice For Runners

Injury Prevention Advice for Runners

Running is a popular form of exercise to improve cardiovascular fitness and is performed by a wide range of people. Here at MD Health we often see clients who have injuries from trying to return to running or after completing large amounts of running without appropriate preparation. Here are some handy tips to prevent injuries for people who are preparing to run a marathon, half marathon, their first 5km run or even those looking to just give it a go for the first time.

Select Appropriate Footwear

It is important to consider the type of shoe you will be wearing when running to ensure it is appropriate for your foot type and running style. For example if your feet are somewhat flat and pronated, you may require a shoe with more support through the arch, or if your foot posture is quite normal you may be able to run in a shoe with little structural support. Running in a shoe which is not suitable can lead to many injuries including plantar fasciitis, shin splints and knee pain. Ideally you can get this checked by a qualified professional such as a sports podiatrist who can guide you towards selecting an appropriate shoe rather than just choosing the shoe which looks the nicest!

Manage Your Training Load

Monitoring your training load is important to continually improve towards your goals but also to ensure that you are not over training and placing yourself at risk of over-use injuries which we often see in recreational and competitive runners. For someone just starting regular running, intervals of jogging then walking is a good way to ease your body into running and then gradually increase the jogging time vs the walking time until you can run a certain distance continuously. For the recreational or competitive runner training for a 10km fun run or marathon event, slowly building up your training load and recording your distance, time and how you felt after each run is a good way to monitor for any signs of over-training during your preparation.

Strengthen Your Body

Because running is such a repetitive movement, it is important to have adequate strength and endurance in the main muscle groups involved in running. This includes appropriately strengthening your calves, quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes to ensure you have power and strength in these muscles to accelerate. It is also really important to have a good level of pelvic stability to prevent lower back pain when running as there is a lot of pressure on this area when running. This would involve having good strength and control of your glutes and abdominal stabilising muscles.

Quality Over Quantity

Many people think that running for longer periods of time is the best way to increase your fitness. However in the untrained runner this can lead to a lot of injuries as running with poor technique when fatigued can place excessive pressure on the joints of the body including the knees, ankles and hips. It is far better to run with good technique at a slightly higher intensity for a shorter period of time as you will not only use more calories but also reduce your risk of injury by not excessively loading your joints.

Written By Jack Hickey
Exercise Physiologist at MD Health Pilates

Exercise Safely in the Heat

Exercise Safely in the Heat

Summer in Australia is a great time to get outside and enjoy the sunshine whilst increasing your health and fitness. However exercising at this time of year can pose some dangers, particularly with scorching temperatures. So with the hottest part of the year upon us in Melbourne, we thought we would share with you some tips on how to stay safe when exercising in the heat this summer.

1. Slip Slop Slap!

For those of us who have grown up in Australia we have always heard this message since we were kids! But it is always important to be reminded of being sun smart when exercising outdoors, especially during summer. Make sure you wear good quality sunscreen (at least SPF 30+) and if your activity involves water such as swimming or kayaking, make sure you chose a waterproof option. Appropriate clothing is also important to protect against skin damage and overheating. Selecting light, breathable and UV protective clothing which covers large areas of skin is recommended especially when exercising outdoors for long periods such as hiking or cycling.

2. Stay Hydrated

Adequate fluid intake before, during and after exercise is always important, but even more so during the warmer months as we are likely to lose more fluid during exercise due to increased sweating. To avoid dehydration, Sports Medicine Australia recommends drinking 2 cups (500ml) of water in the two hours prior to exercise and for exercise lasting longer than one hour drink 2-3 cups (500-750ml) of water every hour. Fluid intake is also important to keep our core temperature down and prevent overheating in hot conditions.

3. Exercise At Cooler Times Of Day

Exercise involving moderate to high intensities should be performed at the coolest part of the day such as early in the morning or in the evening to avoid some of the risks associated with exercising in extreme heat.

4. Exercise Indoors

When temperatures are extreme, exercising in an alternative environment should be considered where possible. This could include going to a gym and running on a treadmill in an air conditioned environment rather than running outside.

Written By Jack Hickey
Exercise Physiologist at MD Health Pilates

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