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Balance training: 5 simple exercises with great effect

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Too old for balance training? A big mistake! You can start at any time to feel fitter and avoid falls. The most important questions and answers about balance.

Why is the balance so important to our well-being?

“Because it is our central purpose, all other senses dock on it,” explains sports scientist Volker Nagel from the University of Hamburg. “When our balance ability is well-formed, we have better body posture and also get in the balance, training our deeper muscles, preventing malpositions and injuries, and sharpening our perception and sense of motion.” Many falls, according to the researchers, could be avoided if we regularly do something for the balance – and this is especially important for people in the third half of life.

“All humans come into the world with the same sense of balance”

How does our sense of balance actually work?

Our balance organ sits in the inner ear, a tiny, bony system of bows, sacks, and snails. There are also small probes that constantly measure the movements of the body and signal us where is up and down. They are interconnected with the eyes and the sensors in the muscles and joints, which also provide information to the brain. When we stumble, the probes in the muscles (proprioceptors) respond reflexively and initiate compensatory movements in an instant, which prevents us from falling. “The prerequisite is that all three sensory channels are intact and provide the same information to the brain,” explains Professor. Michael Strupp from the German Center for Dizziness and Balance Disorders at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich. “

Is this sensory conflict in the brain the reason why we are bad at reading in the back of the car?

Exactly. “The brain is confused if the eyes register no rotation, but the sensors in the inner ear already,” said Strupp. The possible consequence: dizziness , nausea , vomiting. Incidentally, the same phenomenon can be experienced in the snow, when you can no longer recognize from the sheer white, where up and down is.

Is a good sense of balance innate?

No, all humans come into the world with the same sense of balance. But the more you challenge it, the better it gets – even in old age. And actually all forms of exercise help, from jogging and walking (preferably barefoot) on uneven ground to challenging balance sports like stand-up paddling.

Which sports are still suitable?

“Healthy ideal are gentle endurance sports in conjunction with an equilibrium component,” says sports scientist Volker Nagel. For example, trampoline jumping on a medical trampoline, especially if you often jump on one leg and scatters alternating and turning jumps. Also Tai Chi, yoga or dancing are great. By the way: If you particularly want the weaker leg, it increases the equilibrium performance of both legs.

“It is never too late to start with balance training. Just five minutes a day are effective”

Can I still start training in my old age?

Ideally, one has trained the sense of balance throughout his life, especially if you are not physically challenged in everyday life. But, and that’s the good news: it’s never too late to start with balance training. Even five minutes a day are effective: for example, in the morning when brushing your teeth, just stand on one leg. “It is ideal to combine an equilibrium exercise with a situational element in order to bring the body out of its usual rut and to set new stimuli,” says Nagel. Well, this works with wobbly documents, so stand about one-legged on a gyroscope or Kippelbrett and throw a ball against the wall and catch again. Even in old age you can still start. “In our in-line skating school come 70-year-olds and want to learn the sport again,” said Nagel. “

How can I find out how good my balance is?

There is a simple test: stand on one leg barefoot with your eyes closed. If you can do this for at least five seconds per side without falling over, your balance is in the green. Which does not mean that you should not practice daily anyway. Over 80 seconds is a great result!

And what does it mean to suffer from dizziness more often? Do you have to go to the doctor right away?

Dizziness indicates that there is a disturbance of the balance system. It can have many causes, harmless, but also dangerous, such as circulatory disorders in the brain, inflammation of the balance nerve, dissolved calcium crystals in the ear, a stroke, but also psychological reasons such as anxiety. “If you have an acute, severe dizziness or the feeling of falling over, the risk of circulatory problems or a stroke is high, and you should go to the doctor immediately,” advises neurologist Michael Strupp. “The same is true if dizziness attacks occur again and again, even if several weeks in between.” The first contact was the family doctor, who could refer to more specific problems to a neurologist, ENT doctor or a dizziness ambulance. The good news:

Balance exercises for the home

1. BALANCING Roll a towel lengthwise and place it on the floor. Now barefoot balance over the role and backwards backwards. If you like, close your eyes.

2. AIR BOXES Stand  on one leg, raise the other at an angle forward or place on tiptoe. Now with the left and right fists alternately in the air above head height (10 times per side), then laterally at shoulder height 10 times to the left and right box and then diagonally overhead. Switch legs.

3. THE FAILURE STEP  From the hip-width stand, hands on hips, take a big step forward with one leg. The front knee is bent up to 90 degrees and remains above the ankle. Hold for a few seconds, then push backwards with the front foot and come back to the stand. Paging, 8-10 reps per side. For advanced players: When stepping forward, stretch your arms vertically above your head and lower them again when stepping back.

4. THE TREE  Barefoot shift the weight to the left leg and place the sole of the right leg on the inside of the left calf (advanced: left thigh) with the knee pointing outwards. If that wobbles too much, put the toes of your right foot on the ground. Now fold your palms in front of your chest or stretch your arms to the ceiling. Take five deep breaths. Change leg.

5. STAND SCALE Shift  the weight to the left foot and slightly bend the left knee. Then lift the right leg stretched backwards and tilt the upper body forwards until the torso and legs are level with the ground. Stretch your arms forward. In the beginning, it helps to hold onto a wall or stretch your arms sideways. Hold five breaths, then change leg.