Balance is the body’s ability to maintain a certain position, usually supporting one’s body weight on a single limb such as the leg in a Single-leg Balance or the arm in a Handstand. Learning the importance of balance secures our path free from injury. It also teaches us how to engage the core in a more mindful way.
Proprioception, or spatial awareness, is our body’s awareness of where it is at in space at any time. What does this mean really? As you’ll see when you perform this exercise, balancing on one leg can be challenging to many people due to weak core strength, under-active glute muscles, or simply due to lack of performing balance movements regularly. And when these vital steps are not being taken your balance will be compromised. Having the mindfulness to know where the body is in space will allow you to stabilize your body whilst performing balancing movements. When the mind and the muscle can properly communicate, the result is always proper form and more mindful engagement.
One movement that can help improve balance is the Single-Leg Squat Touchdown. This is a lower-body dominant movement that can help improve balance, proprioception (or spacial awareness) and strengthen the glute muscles.
Tempo control is important to improve stabilization in the ankle, knee, and hip joints.
For beginner’s focus on using a 4-2-1 tempo in which you take 4 seconds to squat down to reach your toe, 2 seconds to hold the squat position, and 1 second to extend from the squat to the standing position. For advanced athletes focus on using a 2-0-2 tempo in which you take 2 seconds to squat down to your toe, 0 seconds at the bottom position, and 2 seconds to extend from the squat to the standing position.
In the upright position, engage the core, squeeze the glutes, and balance on one leg.
On the balancing leg, place your hand on your hip and squeeze your shoulder blade.
With a straight back and neutral neck position, flex your ankle, knee, and hip joints to squat down; reach your balancing leg’s toe with the opposite hand.
Keeping your weight on your heels, extend your hips to return to the standing position, exhaling as you reach the top, squeezing the glutes, and achieving a single leg balance without the non-balancing foot dropping to the floor before descending down into the next repetition.
Continue for 10 repetitions per leg for 3 rounds total.
To progress this movement, try performing on an unstable surface like a half foam roller, balance disc, or BOSU Ball (dome down)
Add this balance movement to your strength training program on leg days. Also, add it on days you perform cardio such as endurance running or sprinting. Besides this movement being great for balance, it is great for building the glute muscles as aforementioned. By simply adding a 5-10lb. dumbbell in your reaching hand you can intensity this movement and challenge yourself more. Remind yourself to engage the core if you find your body becoming shaky and unstable. As always, train safe, sweat hard, and stay Mission Fit!