Silouette of a man balancing on slack line

Everyone Needs Balance and Stability Training

We already know how important exercise is for maintaining our health. This is especially true as we begin to experience age-related physical decline in areas such as strength, agility, balance and stability. However, many of our fitness endeavors and goals tend to neglect that last category.

Improving balance and stability should be a priority to reduce injuries and improve movement confidence. Sometimes, I get patients in the office who inform me, "Oh, I can't do that exercise. I can't get up and down from the floor." At this moment, flashing red lights and a siren are going off in my head. This is a major red flag and now becomes our new number one priority.

Man sweating from anxiety
So what do you plan to do if you fall?

Get Familiar with the Floor

Barring temporary extreme acute pain or permanent physical disability, everyone should be able to get up from the floor. Yes, at any age, even if you're over 100. Especially if you're over 100! When (not if) you end up falling or tripping and end up on the ground, what are you going to do? Just give up? This is a serious health concern and making sure you can do this may save your life!

However, balance and stability training isn't only important for older people. This is also a crucial measure of fitness for professional athletes. Before opening my own practice, I worked in a professional sports medicine facility. We treated a variety of different professional athletes, with a big focus on football. One of the programs we ran was a training program for players entering the NFL. Each one was invited to Indianapolis for the NFL Combine and wanted to perform their best.

Importance in Athletes

For those who don't know, the NFL Combine is an event where the top college players perform various speed and strength feats. Professional teams can compare the skill and fitness of the prospective draft class. However, one physical exam that is not often seen is the Functional Movement Screen. (By the way, this is a service we offer!)

The Functional Movement Screen is a series of 7 tests that don't measure strength or speed; they measure balance and stability. Research shows that scoring 14+ out of 21 possible points predicts that a football player is 50% less likely to be injured while playing! What do you think a professional football team is going to think about knowing that a certain playing is half as likely to be injured compared to another? Their value skyrockets! Less injuries, longer career, better draft position, more money! Scoring well on this test quite literally boosts their career instantly.

We spent 12 weeks in the training program not only working on their speed and strength, but their Functional Movement Screen score as well. For the four years I worked in this program, we had at least one first-round draft pick every year; our best year we had five. The results speak for themselves.

Balance and Stability Exercises to Try

Obviously, most of us don't need to worry about performing well at the NFL Combine, but it just illustrates the point of how balance and stability are incredibly important regardless at both ends of the spectrum of age and athletic ability. Besides making an appointment for a Functional Movement Screen at our office, what else can you do to level up this skill? Try these exercises in the video below that you can easily do at home to increase your movement confidence!