Friday, September 19, 2008

More on balance training

We have spoken about balance before, particularly thinking about how it can help to prevent injuries to the ankle and knee.

Here is another new study which points in the same direction.

Balance training can of course be very simple. It might sound a bit daft, but I stand on one leg as I put my socks on each day and also as I take a pee.

Balance Training Improves Function and Postural Control in Those with Chronic Ankle Instability.

Purpose: The purpose of this randomized controlled trial was to determine the effect of a 4-wk balance training program on static and dynamic postural control and self-reported functional outcomes in those with chronic ankle instability (CAI).

Methods: Thirty-one young adults with self-reported CAI were randomly assigned to an intervention group (six males and 10 females) or a control group (six males and nine females). The intervention consisted of a 4-wk supervised balance training program that emphasized dynamic stabilization in single-limb stance. Main outcome measures included the following: self-reported disability on the Foot and Ankle Disability Index (FADI) and the FADI Sport scales; summary center of pressure (COP) excursion measures including area of a 95% confidence ellipse, velocity, range, and SD; time-to-boundary (TTB) measures of postural control in single-limb stance including the absolute minimum TTB, mean of TTB minima, and SD of TTB minima in the anteroposterior and mediolateral directions with eyes open and closed; and reach distance in the anterior, posteromedial, and posterolateral directions of the Star Excursion Balance Test (SEBT).

Results: The balance training group had significant improvements in the FADI and the FADI Sport scores, in the magnitude and the variability of TTB measures with eyes closed, and in reach distances with the posteromedial and the posterolateral directions of the SEBT. Only one of the summary COP-based measures significantly changed after balance training.

Conclusions: Four weeks of balance training significantly improved self-reported function, static postural control as detected by TTB measures, and dynamic postural control as assessed with the SEBT. TTB measures were more sensitive at detecting improvements in static postural control compared with summary COP-based measures.


Methuselah - Pay Now Live Later said...

I really want to get into doing one-legged bodyweight squats (aka pistols) - these seem to provide the perfect mix of balance and strength training. But i am finding it difficult to let go of my barbell squat routine. I can't shake the sense that I will lose strength / mass and that the GH benfits of a savage barbell squat routine cannot be replicated with pistols. Any thoughts?

Chris said...

hi there.

I like single leg squats, but not the way they are normally done with the free leg stretched out in front. That seems unnatural to me. I prefer the free leg to be tucked under. There is a great article by Mike Boyle here on single leg training.

For balance keep it simple - stand on one leg a lot. Single leg training is really important - life is lived on one leg

Methuselah - Pay Now Live Later said...

Thanks Chris - great article!

Anonymous said...

Chris, a worthy topic largely under recognized from an overall fitness perspective.

methuselah, my thoughts: picture the guy in the t-nation article who is doing the supported squat (Bulgarian) doing them up on the bench instead as an unsupported single leg squat. The uninvolved leg can simply hang down in a neutral position which is advantageous for maintaining neutral hip position and the slightly unstable surface of the padding on the bench really ramps up the balance function and all important stabilizer muscle activation. I would also recommend paying attention to keeping weight distributed back toward the heal and keeping the knee behind the toes with butt traveling backward during descent. This invariably requires more forward lean in order to maintain balance and this should be minimized in pursuit of perfect form. On the plus side the large and powerful glutes are more engaged and the low back stabilizers strengthened.

You may lose some GH response with SL squats but you will not lose strength - particularly functional strength.