Balance Exercises

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Re: Balance Exercises

Postby Mark Ellis » Tue Jan 24, 2012 6:38 am

So I asked my trainer if it is possible to improve balance. He said, of course. You can improve any skill you possess.

Babies develop balance. It is hard to believe that at some point your balance becomes static. We know balance can become worse. Why could it not also become better?

Some people have superb balance. How did they get it if not by training and practice?
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Re: Balance Exercises

Postby CatPredator » Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:32 am

Mark Ellis wrote:So I asked my trainer if it is possible to improve balance. He said, of course. You can improve any skill you possess.

Babies develop balance. It is hard to believe that at some point your balance becomes static. We know balance can become worse. Why could it not also become better?

Some people have superb balance. How did they get it if not by training and practice?


TwoScoops has shared a particularly cynical view of this subject. Perhaps he's got experience trying to teach unteachables or has been around a lot of nitwits or something. It's a relatively straightforward matter to train your muscles to support your body. Everyone can do it, and the impact that it can have is enormous.

Inner ear function and the neurological component to balance are the things that are less tangible and harder to train. If you've ever experienced a head rush, or vertigo, or any sense of dizziness, you know there is something going on in your head that controls how you're perceiving the world over which you have no power. You can't control how your inner ear function works, and you probably can't truly improve it or prevent it's decay over time, but you can train yourself to listen and respond to it under normal circumstances. Again, try doing a balance routine blind folded and I bet you will fall over pretty quick. If you keep working at it, you'll get better.

Just because there are certain parts of your physiology that are hardwired doesn't mean you can't train the parts that aren't to improve your real world performance.
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Re: Balance Exercises

Postby Two Scoops » Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:25 am

Well, this is just my opinion. I'm okay if no one agrees with me, but in an attempt to clarify my point:

When I say "trainable" I'm talking about being able to increase a capacity, or raising a threshold. Strength and endurance, for example, are highly trainable. Take a weak person and put him on a good strength training program and they will gradually increase their strength threshold, i.e., he will get stronger in the specific training movements and this will transfer over into every day activities. (I also argue that strength is a skill in itself that must be practiced, but that's a whole other conversation.) Likewise, take a couch potato and have him run hill sprints a few times a week and cardiovascular endurance will improve, there will be carryover into other real world activities, and his endurance threshold will rise, not indefinitely of course, but it will rise substantially in any untrained person.

Balance is more like handedness. If you're ambidextrous, you're gifted. Most of us are right or lefty, and that's pretty much it. You can't train your way into being lefty if your righty. You can practice a whole set of movements and skills, and improve your dexterity with your off hand, but you're not going to raise the threshold of your handedness.

My central point in the last post was that I don't see the value in spending a lot of time or energy on training balance since the benefits are realized very quickly. Train balance to the point you demonstrate competency in the movements you're interested in and then do occasional maintenance to preserve the competency. Spend the other time training things that can actually improve, or are more susceptible to erosion, like strength, endurance and flexibility.

A final point, athletes with superb balance do spend a lot of time "training" balance, but it is more accurately described as practicing balance. They are completive in sports that require balance because they had good balance to start with, and they are honing that balance in practice. They did not develop that balance with drills, etc. I'm reminded of how many people, coaches even, will make the argument about the value of sprinting on body composition by saying, "Look at an elite sprinter's body, then look at an elite marathoner's body, which body do you want... the sprinter's?... then sprint!" I say "bull pucky." Elite sprinters are elite sprinters because they have a lot of fast twitch muscle which is good for sprinting, and which is why they look the way they do. Their bodies chose their sport, their sport did not choose their body.
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Re: Balance Exercises

Postby ChrisWoj » Mon Feb 20, 2012 12:03 am

Two Scoops wrote:Well, this is just my opinion. I'm okay if no one agrees with me, but in an attempt to clarify my point:

When I say "trainable" I'm talking about being able to increase a capacity, or raising a threshold. Strength and endurance, for example, are highly trainable. Take a weak person and put him on a good strength training program and they will gradually increase their strength threshold, i.e., he will get stronger in the specific training movements and this will transfer over into every day activities. (I also argue that strength is a skill in itself that must be practiced, but that's a whole other conversation.) Likewise, take a couch potato and have him run hill sprints a few times a week and cardiovascular endurance will improve, there will be carryover into other real world activities, and his endurance threshold will rise, not indefinitely of course, but it will rise substantially in any untrained person.

Balance is more like handedness. If you're ambidextrous, you're gifted. Most of us are right or lefty, and that's pretty much it. You can't train your way into being lefty if your righty. You can practice a whole set of movements and skills, and improve your dexterity with your off hand, but you're not going to raise the threshold of your handedness.

My central point in the last post was that I don't see the value in spending a lot of time or energy on training balance since the benefits are realized very quickly. Train balance to the point you demonstrate competency in the movements you're interested in and then do occasional maintenance to preserve the competency. Spend the other time training things that can actually improve, or are more susceptible to erosion, like strength, endurance and flexibility.

A final point, athletes with superb balance do spend a lot of time "training" balance, but it is more accurately described as practicing balance. They are completive in sports that require balance because they had good balance to start with, and they are honing that balance in practice. They did not develop that balance with drills, etc. I'm reminded of how many people, coaches even, will make the argument about the value of sprinting on body composition by saying, "Look at an elite sprinter's body, then look at an elite marathoner's body, which body do you want... the sprinter's?... then sprint!" I say "bull pucky." Elite sprinters are elite sprinters because they have a lot of fast twitch muscle which is good for sprinting, and which is why they look the way they do. Their bodies chose their sport, their sport did not choose their body.

Your point regarding "handedness" is pretty much false. It takes dedication and years of proper training but becoming as strong with one hand as the other is definitely possible. Few elite basketball players, for example, go into their teen years ambidextrous. It is at that age that coaches will begin harping on the idea of using their weak hand for everything. Eating, brushing their teeth, etc. - All of the little things. You can train yourself to become dexterous with your off hand. It simply gets harder as you get older, like any other athletic endeavor and many intellectual ones.

Frankly - the same goes for balance. Especially the balance needed to be a properly coordinated athlete. With regards to your upper limits (for example: being able to scale a cable-car wire to the top of a mountain) there are obviously some people that are going to be more naturally gifted than others. But teaching proper balance with regards to disc golf competition? It is something that can be learned and improved upon fairly constantly over time. Mark has commented on my balance in the past, years ago, and I can honestly tell you I went through high school as a clutz. The balance I have on my feet, the ability to stay within myself and throw coordinated disc golf shots comes entirely from training and practice.

You start with strength, and from strength comes coordination and balance. Most people don't understand that you need to start by building strength in order to build balance. They do silly little balance exercises that don't really help anything on their own - but if they took the time to work on a set of simple body-weight calisthenics they'd find that they are capable of far more than they believed.


As for the sprinter's body vs the distance runner's body... When I was a frosh in college I was 5'10 and 135 - and very much looked the part of the distance runner that I was running the 10,000M in track. I'm 5'10 and 165, and it isn't fat I've put on. Nor is it bulky muscle. It is all lean muscle. I look more like one of those compact sprinters than I do a distance runner these days, even if I can still pump out miles. But right now I'd find it far easier achieving the varsity 100M standard from my HS days than the varsity 1600M standard, that's for damn sure.
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Re: Balance Exercises

Postby talkinsmack » Fri May 18, 2012 1:52 pm

do yoga. anyone that thinks it is beneath them should try 5 minutes of advanced yoga to get a perspective of what you lack. inner ear seems like something that you can't control but I disagree. if your trying to prevent infections, aging and brain damage, there are definitely ways to address those problems. aside from yoga, there is also pilates. I don't do pilates because there is a lot of equipment involved which translates to $$$. you either pay to visit a pilates studio or you buy all the equipment and a bigger house. the term "pilates class" is rather dumb since you can learn everything and accomplish nothing when your $ runs out.
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Re: Balance Exercises

Postby JR » Fri May 18, 2012 9:34 pm

Work physiotherapist said to me that Pilates is effectively Yoga. I think she meant that the exercises you have in both of them work the same parts of the body so you'll get the same benefits. She prescribed only one Pilates move on top of regular rehab training for me and that Pilates exercise requires no equipment. Both of those disciplines could be described regular gym work anyhow except Yoga makes you train in more advanced ways that targets also smaller muscles that really help balance wise with proper poses. Palm tree is very good pose for disc golf balance improvements. If that is too easy and you wanna fall down and tear something try the king of dance pose :-)
Flat shots need running on the center line of the tee and planting each step on the center line. Anhyzer needs running from rear right to front left with the plant step hitting the ground to the left of the line you're running on. Hyzer is the mirror of that.
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Re: Balance Exercises

Postby Beetard » Tue May 22, 2012 10:08 pm

From my experience balance is trainable. I've been working on balance by taking up skiing, ice skating, and walking on railroad tracks, and I've gotten better at all of these with time. I developed a better sense of where my center of gravity was and how to manipulate it. You really have to try at first, but if you practice doing it right (moving smoothly and not falling) it gradually becomes more instictive and automatic.
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Re: Balance Exercises

Postby JR » Thu May 24, 2012 6:41 am

Yes and the more automated the throw is regarding perfect balance the more repeatably accurate you will be. With some distance increase that may not be more than a few feet. Anyhow field practice can create a routine but it is limited by the muscle power of the balance maintaining muscles.
Flat shots need running on the center line of the tee and planting each step on the center line. Anhyzer needs running from rear right to front left with the plant step hitting the ground to the left of the line you're running on. Hyzer is the mirror of that.
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Re: Balance Exercises

Postby Three Puttz » Thu Jun 28, 2012 1:23 pm

Two things that have greatly increased my balance is a balance board workout routine and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

The balance board I picked because I have a gimped up ankle. I had broken it a couple times and required 5 surgeries on it in total. That was years ago and it's healed, for the most part. The problem I was having was that I was injuring it very easily. Usually it was just minor things like twisting during pickup basketball games or sprains when caught in toe holds or ankle cranks. I finally got sick of it happening so I asked both a doctor and physical therapist what they would recommend. They both said that if I build up the strength in it, the injuries should subside, and both suggested getting a balance board. If you haven't seen one of these things, it's just a round board with a half sphere centered on the bottom of the board. You stand on it and then go through a series of movements such as touching the front of the board to the floor and rocking back so the back is touching the floor without letting the sides touch. Then you just try to keep all of the edges off of the floor for as long as possible. Things like that.

When you first start using it, it's hard to do. It's impossible to keep yourself balanced for more than 30 seconds or so and the fronts of your shins, calfs and ankles fatigue really quickly, but after a couple weeks, you see noticeable improvements.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is just fun as hell, but it also requires a lot of body control and a good grasp of leverage. You have to be able to contort your body in different directions while also fighting against forces being exerted on you from different angles in order to maintain a steady base so you can attack, defend or move to more advantageous positions. I don't know how much that kind of balance would translate to disc golf, but I imagine some of it does. It also works your core like no other workout I've ever done before and having a stronger core is beneficial for any kind of physical activity. The only downside is that it can put some strain on your joints. There have been times when my elbows were too sore to play disc golf the following weekend, but it's only happened a couple times over the course of several years.
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Re: Balance Exercises

Postby JR » Thu Jun 28, 2012 3:57 pm

I had an ankle surgery after a sprain last month and my orthopedic surgeon/traumatologist said that since this was my first sprain my tendons weren't stretched to too long. The longer the tendon the looser it is and the less it will support the ligaments and what have you and the more easy it is to overextend the ankle and reinjure yourself. The more spains you get the looser you'll get and the more you'll get injured. That is how many athletes in many sports end their career. Volleyball and basketball are especially susceptible but i think motorcycling cross country or jumping is also bad for the ankles considering how often those people get hurt and how bad. The doctor said that it is possible to surgically shorten the tendon to make it tighter in case it gets too long but of course there will be some scarring and it still won't be as good as new. So if you get into a vicious circle of ankle injuries it may be possible to end that with surgery. In some cases at least.

I was also told to use a balance board but i'd rather not pick up yet more stuff and do yoga (good for the core and balance) and gym stuff for the ankle rehab. On top of running like mad then doing the x step and ripping hard. Surprisingly that feels way less stressful to the ankle than lifting myself to be on the toes or squatting down fully and going back up repeatedly or back to the wall ankle, knees and hip to thigh joint in 90 degree angles and holding for 40 seconds 20 times being the target and i'm not there yet. That last exercise hurt and is a killer so i've not dared to try the harder version of getting the heels to only 8" from the wall now they are way forward and i'm flat footed so it relieves the stress from the ankle a lot vs having the heels in the air.
Flat shots need running on the center line of the tee and planting each step on the center line. Anhyzer needs running from rear right to front left with the plant step hitting the ground to the left of the line you're running on. Hyzer is the mirror of that.
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