At the end of our RAMP (Range of Motion, Activation, Movement Prep…fancy way of saying warm up) we have some movements that improve your balance through locomotion. These movements are basic play ground exercises like skipping, side shuffling, cross over, 360 runs, etc. It’s amazing how many people can’t skip! We do this to help our members improve their balance (among other things). Prevent falling is one of the more common goals we hear from our older members.
Locomotion is simply moving from one point to another point, i.e. running.
Falling is a real fear as you age. Falling is also a real fear if your weak. I have VERY good balance from years of wrestling, Judo and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. When I was going through chemo, I would often lose my balance JUST WALKING DOWN STAIRS. If you want to feel what it will be like when you get older with no exercise…go through 2 months of chemo. Eye opener.
Why do we fall? Simple – because we lose our balance! However, WHAT causes us to lose our balance? Well…that doesn’t really matter. That’s the wrong question to ask, the right question is – how do I prevent myself from falling. That one is simple – improve your dynamic and static balance. And getting stronger, that tends to help with everything.
Static and Dynamic Balance
True story! As you age, you get weaker if your not working on getting stronger, that’s just a natural thing that occurs. Well, as your muscle mass/strength decreases, so does your ability to hold your self up right on one leg – static balance. Now for most people static balance isn’t the issue because it’s rare that someone just falls over from losing their balance standing still. That’s called passing out…and we can’t really train you to prevent that.
Chris working on his dynamic balance with some lateral skips.
Dynamic balance is the issue. How many times have you heard – “I was walking and lost my balance, fell and hurt my arm/knee/hip/back, etc.” from a friend or older family member? A lot i bet! That’s dynamic balance – as you move from one leg to the other are you able to keep your center of gravity and mass between your legs and not outside your base of support.
Falling is an uncontrolled run, because all running is a controlled fall. Try it. Try to run with out leaning forward, you don’t really go very far. You must lose your balance ever so slightly, catch your self and then continue that…it’s just a series of falls. Now, running it’s self won’t improve balance because people tend to fall when they CAN’T RECOVER FROM LOSING THEIR BALANCE. Remember – walking is a controlled fall. We can fall great, but its when we can’t recover that we actually cause an injury to our self.
That’s where things like skipping, side shuffling, backwards running, etc. all come into play. By practicing those movements we haven’t done since we were kids we improve our dynamic balance, help ward against fall related injuries AND get to practice a skill we haven’t used in a while which helps the brain stay young. Plus, it’s a lot of fun! I dare you to skip with out smiling!
So…check out this short video on WHY we locomote after our RAMP and to hear a little bit more on dynamic balance.
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When people first come to KDR they are usually (this is based off on our experience and the clientele that comes in) de-conditioned and not as strong as they could be. Plus, they are generally intimidated! Coming into a weight room full of equipment you don’t know how to use or have never seen before can be very overwhelming. So, we need a tool that isn’t intimidating, can help bring up someone’s conditioning level fast and that also helps to build strength quickly.
Kettlebells are a great way we can accomplish these goals, i.e. improve your aerobic fitness and get you stronger at the same time. PLUS! Thanks to social media and TV, KB’s are a piece of gym equipment most people have seen before so for beginners, KB’s aren’t that intimidating. After all…it’s just a ball with a handle.
According to a recent study by American Council of Exercise demonstrated that Kettlebell training significantly boosts aerobic capacity, while also improving strength and dynamic balance.
“Kettlebell training increases strength, which you’d expect, but you also get these other benefits,” says Porcari. “You don’t really do resistance training expecting to get an aerobic capacity benefit, and you don’t do resistance training and expect to improve your core strength unless of course, you’re specifically doing core-strengthening exercises. But with kettlebells, you’re able to get a wide variety of benefits with one pretty intense workout.”
My training is heavily influenced by kettlebells as well as most of our members. Here are just a few things I have witnessed due to training with KBs:
Increased ability to go longer during runs – without running.
Increased ability to go faster during runs – without running.
Increased strength in core, glutes, hamstrings AND back.
Those glutes weren’t given to her. They were earned!
Not that long ago, glutes were thought to be one of those muscle groups you couldn’t train effectively. However, (THANK GOD!) we now know that’s not true! They are a muscle just like any other muscle and can respond to exercise the same way other muscles respond, they can get stronger, with more tone and you can even SCULPT your booty (arguably) better then other body parts.
A strong butt will help protect the back and knees from injury AND is imperative if you want to be the best athlete you can be. Glutes are THE prime mover in hip extension (pushing your foot behind your hip) during sprinting, skating, etc.
Looking at that booty! You don’t get that by running slow.
That’s great if you want a better looking butt! Check out our 30 days of glutes challenge and start rocking a tighter butt that:
Will help protect your lower back from injuries.
Help you in almost all sporting events.
Will fill out your jeans better! No one wants a desk ass.
Don’t forget to squeeze your glutes at the top of every motion!
Do you want a stronger and more sculpted butt? Sign up for our 6 week Stronger You program!
Exercise Technique Tip – KB Single Arm Rack Post Lunge
Lunges are unilateral exercises, meaning that they train one side of your body independently from the other. Training one side at a time improves your balance and coordination. Lunges are great for improving Quad strength as well as increase hip flexor flexibility.
This exercise will also work that CORE. The main job of the core is to prevent movement (twisting, bending and flexing). One way to facilitate that is by using a KB in a rack position while lunging.
KB SA Rack Post Lunge steps:
Clean the KB to the rack position.
Take a big step backwards.
Pushing your knee into the floor.
Keep the KB in the rack position and torso upright.
Repeat with other leg.
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Are you a runner? Do these three exercises before and after your next run for pain free hamstrings and faster foot turn over.
Ben Dearman, owner KDR Fitness
It’s 70 out and that means people are itching to start running. And that means the typical running injuries of – tight/pulled hamstrings, knee pain and shin splints are just around the corner for most of you.
Incorporate these 3 basic movements into your pre and post running routine to help combat those nagging injuries.
We call this the Triple Threat! Start with only a few reps of each movement pre and post run. Go for the burn, as soon as you feel your muscles start to burn stop. Also, think controlled and slow for this movement.