The Synonymy of Balance and Motion
by Doug Gray, FAFS
Balance must be studied and, more importantly, trained in motion. Traditionally, balance has been studied and trained in stillness. Albert Einstein once said, "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving." It is important to note that life is made up of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual. While this article is geared primarily toward the physical, the principle of "balance" is applied to all aspects of life, as Einstein alluded to above.
Paul Boese commented on this topic by stating, "We come into this world head first and go out feet first; in between, it is all a matter of balance." Balance in life seems to be a state that is strived for throughout one's time on earth. It is no wonder that in the physical, balance is important to one who is trying to move at a young age, to one trying to continue to move at an old age, and every age in between it is all a matter of balance." Balance in life seems to be a state that is strived for throughout one's time on earth. It is no wonder that in the physical, balance is important to one who is trying to move at a young age, to one trying to continue to move at an old age, and every age in between. What is even more important is the reality that balance training seems to be a forgotten area of focus for total fitness. Fitness is comprised of flexibility, strength, and cardiovascular endurance; balance dramatically enhances each and every aspect. Therefore, balance training needs to be incorporated into all types of training – injury prevention, rehabilitation, and performance enhancement.
Traditionally, balance is defined as "a state in which a body or object remains reasonably steady in a particular position while resting on a base that is narrow or small relative to its other dimensions" (Encarta Dictionary). Practically, balance is a "want," as well as a "need," relating to our body. No matter the function, task, activity, or sport, balance is a much‐needed element the body wants and needs to be successful. As mentioned above, balance must be studied and trained in motion. Functionally, the definition of balance can be enhanced by stating the following: balance is successfully displacing one's center of gravity for the purpose of returning back to where one started or to transfer into another direction. Walking is a perfect example of this enhanced definition, as this everyday activity is really "controlled falling." One's center of gravity is constantly being changed (between one foot and the other and everywhere in between) in order to stay upright and move across the ground.
Balance training is foundational to all forms of exercise. Exercises can be grouped according to the following: foundational, enhancement, and skilling. Simply characterized, foundational exercises are what the body can execute on its own without equipment; enhancement exercises build from foundational exercises by adding equipment to the movements; and skilling exercises are more refined in that they drive a specific purpose (such as an activity or sport). Balance training, while it is involved in all three categories, tends to be neglected. A prime example is in youth training – many children are funneled into skilling exercises prior to mastering foundational and enhancement exercises. Take soccer for example – children are asked to kick a ball in a certain direction for a certain purpose before they can successfully balance on one leg and drive their opposite side foot in all three planes of motion.
Balance Escalation, which is part of the Gray Institute's 3D Matrix Performance Series, is a workout designed to expand the threshold of one's functional abilities – to strategically, three-dimensionally, and sequentially improve balance. Moreover, it is a workout designed to allow one to better own his / her three-dimensional space. The workout itself is hugely empowering, as it can be easily tweaked up (made more challenging) and easily tweaked down (made less challenging) to meet one where he / she is successful.
Escalation is another word for growth and intensification. For one to add intensity to his / her fitness, balance training is paramount in this facilitation. This, in turn, allows for the expansion, the growth, of his / her functional threshold. This is the name of the game of training.
The overall, guiding logic of Balance Escalation is to load the entire hip three-dimensionally with authentic motion as the body is oriented in a balancing position and / or transformation zone. The entire hip can be simply divided into two components: the back hip (glutes) and the front hip (hip flexors). This section of the body is also known as the "power source of the body." If the power of the body is turned on, then it is much more advantageous to maintain balance while facilitating motion. To turn (load) the back hip, the relative motions of flexion, adduction, and internal rotation must be eccentrically lengthened. To turn on (load) the front hip, the relative motions of extension, abduction, and external rotation must be eccentrically lengthened.
The authentic movement objectives of Balance Escalation, in particular, are as follows:
• Leverage foot reaches, hand reaches, and a combination of foot and hand reaches from a single leg balance stance;
• Apply foot swings, hand swings, and a combination of foot and hand swings from a single leg balance stance;
• Incorporate single leg balance lunges, lunges with balance, and a combination of single leg balance lunges with balance;
• Build upon series of above lunges with hand swings; and
• Finish with hopping jacks*.
Balance enhances control and stability. The facilitator in this process is motion. Gary Gray is quoted as saying that balance training is "turning on your switch a little faster in all three planes." Motion (or movement) turns on prioprioceptors (the "electricity of the body"), proprioceptors turn on muscles, and muscles allow for amplified balance. Thus, it is important to constantly tweak one's balance training in a variety of manners to better own one's three-dimensional space. This, of course, needs to be done authentically, as well as subtly, safely, and sequentially. Balance Escalation is a workout that provides a foundation – a framework – in which to accomplish this.
• "Jumping Jacks" are defined as two feet to two feet jumps with bilateral hand swings;
• "Jumping Jack" is defined as two feet to two feet jumps with unilateral hand swings;
• "Jopping Jacks" are defined as two feet to one foot jops with bilateral hand swings;
• "Jopping Jack" is defined as two feet to one foot jops with unilateral hand swings;
• "Hopping Jacks" are defined as one foot to same one foot hops with bilateral hand swings;
• "Hopping Jack" is defined as one foot to same one foot hops with unilateral hand swings.
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