As a mother, trying to find balance in your life can seem like the ultimate goal! However, balance training, like many things in our busy lives, is easy to overlook. Muscular balance and core strength are essential to everything we do, from daily activities to fitness achievements. Additionally, proper balance is important for preventing injuries, improving coordination and posture, and enhancing athletic performance.
As we age our balance gets worse. In fact, our balance begins to deteriorate around the age of 25! As mothers we get even more off kilter by carrying our babies on one side. So, how do we regain our balance? Strengthen
your core! Strengthening your trunk muscles relieves back pain, enhances balance, and reduces your risk of injury. As Steven Ehasz, MES, CSCS, exercise physiologist and wellness coordinator for the University of Maryland Medical System says, “It doesn’t matter how strong your arms and legs are if the muscles they’re attached to aren’t equally as strong.”
So, how do we strengthen our core? At the most basic level, make sure you are working both sides of your body evenly. This includes performing the same number of reps and using the same level of weights on each side and, most importantly, maintaining good posture while performing your exercises. Starting at the top, standing upper body exercises – performed while maintaining proper form – will help develop balance. To engage more core muscles, and further enhance your balance, try decreasing your base while performing these exercises by moving your feet closer together, or standing on one foot. Abdominal and back exercises, in addition to lower body exercises such as squats, lunges, dead lifts (particularly 1 leg dead lifts), box jumps, or step ups also develop muscles necessary for good balance. Finally, equipment such as balance boards, stability balls, and BOSU balls, or anything that provides an unstable surface (e.g., sand) engages your core muscles and joints, which enhances your balance development.