Sarah’s Series #4 – Balance and Proprioception

Balance and proprioception are arguably two of the more important skills for skiing. To put it in a very basic way, they keep you upright on your skis or snowboard!

Balance is your body’s ability to make small changes to remain in a desired position usually during a dynamic movement.

Proprioception is made up of several different systems which all provide information for your brain for you to make the small corrections needed to maintain balance!

  • Vision – your eyes give your brain a visual reference of your position in space.

  • Inner ear – your inner ear lets your brain know which way your head is facing e.g.: if

    you’re on your side or upside down (we hope not too often)

  • Muscle and joint receptors – send signals about where each join is in space. E.g.: while walking on uneven ground, your ankle and foot let your brain know what orientation your foot is and if its wobbling side to side or forward and backwards.

It’s very difficult to demonstrate how muscles and joint receptors affect your ability to balance but you might have found that when you’ve got a sinus infection your balance isn’t quite right or the room might take a short while to “settle” when you move from a lying to a sitting position. That’s because your inner ear has been affected!

However, it’s very easy to demonstrate how much of a huge effect your vision has on your ability to balance. Test yourself; stand on one leg and time how long you can hold your balance. Now close your eyes and repeat. Often people will not be able to balance for more than 20 seconds with their eyes closed.

Try some of the exercises below to improve your balance and proprioception. They’re all rated, so try and start with the easier ones and work up to the more difficult ones.

Also check out the video here for a demonstration of the exercises and pointers on how to complete them correctly, then read on after …..

Single leg stand

Sarahs Series blog 4 single leg 2.jpg

Standing on one leg is a great way to start to improve your balance. Make sure you’re near to something to hold onto if you think you might be wobbly!

Progress this by closing your eyes or banding a knee slightly. Also doing this on a soft surface such as a pillow or sofa cushion (placed on the floor) makes it more difficult too!

For those of you with ninja balance why not try standing on a soft surface with eyes closed and a slightly bent knee to really push yourself!

 
Sarah Series blog 4 tip toe squat 2.jpg

Tip toe squat

Start in a half depth squat position.

Lift your heels of the ground so that you are standing just on your toes

(If you check out the video, you’ll see me wobble; I find this particularly hard!)

 

Single leg stand with slow transfer onto opposite leg

Start bay standing on one leg. Reach the opposite leg out to the side and place slowly on the ground.

Finish by standing on one leg (the opposite to the one you started on)

Sarah Series blog 4 tip 3 x single leg 2.jpg

Single leg hop and switch leg

Similar as above but instead of stepping from one foot to the other, you will hop.

This is a great exercise as it tests your dynamic balance and your ability to make small adjustments and corrections to prevent you falling.

Some other fun balance activities are like those you might have seen on police documentaries to test a suspected drunk driver.

Walking in a straight line (perhaps along some kitchen floor tiles) placing the heel of one foot directly in front of the toes of the other.

Walking on your tip toes

Standing on toe feet with one foot behind but in line with both facing forward. Your feet should be about 1 m apart (depending on how long your legs are).

Get going with these exercises and you’ll soon find your skills improving!

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