Whenever we think about standing balances – particularly on one leg, we tend to focus on the feet. It’s pretty obvious why. When you balance on one leg you can feel the muscles in your foot and ankle working hard to keep you upright.
But there is more to balancing on 1 leg than your feet. All of the muscles in your body contribute to your ability to balance, in part because they are all connected. You have more control over your body’s movement, the more you can coordinate or connect the actions between your muscles.
Do you ever wonder why in my classes we often bring the hands alongside our head or hips when we balance? If you’re not sure what I mean, check out this mini class to see examples of the movement.
When you bring your hand alongside your head or stretch your arms out it’s easier to activate some of the muscles in the side of your body. Those muscles form part of your core and activating your core will help you balance. Activating those muscles can also stretch your wrists, arms, shoulders and neck – double benefit!
Not sure? Try it!
- Stand on 2 feet. Gently press your right hand on the right side of your chest just under your armpit (so you can feel if the muscles are working or not).
- Gently lift your left arm out to the side. Feel anything? Probably not much.
- Gently flex your left fingers up, press through the heel of your hand. If this feels painful or intense on your wrist or arm, bend your elbow. What does the side of your body feel like?
- Now gently think of pulling your left armpit slightly downwards. What’s that feel like?
- Keep an active hand and wrist, bend your left arm at the elbow bringing your fingers towards your left ear or left side of your neck. What do you feel?
Try the same movements with your arm, but balancing on one leg. What do you notice?
Did you notice the muscles squeeze and tighten on the left side of your body. Those muscles are part of your core. They not only help you keep your body upright, they help trigger muscles in your hips and back, all helping to control your balance.