Getting the Best from Your Essentrics® Workout: Balance

Listening to your body is essential for a safe and effective class. Our ability to balance can vary person to person and day to day. Sometimes we balance well and other times need a support because we are tired, need to reawaken balance reflexes, our muscles are overworked or we need to strengthen the muscles involved. Using a wall or chair for support can help to build balance and strength over time while maintaining the good alignment needed to protect our joints and recruit all of the potential muscles involved in a movement.

Feeling wobbly:

  • use a chair or wall for support
  • take a break
  • do fewer repetitions
  • keep your foot closer to the ground

“Use it or lose it” applies to your balance reflexes as much as it does to strength and range of motion, and we need to challenge those reflexes to maintain this vital neurological connection. Falling off balance slightly helps to stimulate balance reflexes. You want to be safe, of course, and it can be helpful to use a support for some or all of the sequences that challenge your balance. Week to week, try to rely on a support a little bit less each class.

Additional Objectives of Balance Exercises:

  • strengthening the core
  • decompressing joints
  • improving mobility
  • strengthening the standing leg

In Essentrics® while we focus on one aspect of an exercise, there are other areas of attention as well. This is true of the balance exercises. While you are exercising one foot as in the photo above, you are also challenging your standing leg and your core. With good alignment and “pulling up” you are decompressing the joints of one leg as you work through range of motion with the other.

Recently, I had an opportunity to take a class with one of the instructors from the Essentrics® office. We did a bicycle sequence, which we’ll do in the fall classes, and I could not hold my balance on my left leg. I slid over to rest a hand on nearby spin bike for that sequence. This morning, I was able to do that sequence without needing support. Prioritize posture and alignment and from there decide what you need that day.

Can Essentrics Make You Faster?

We think it does! Before my husband Garth’s 5K on Saturday we did a 30-minute Essentrics fascia release workout. He normally runs about a 6:45 minute mile and in that race he averaged 6:10 miles finishing 8th overall (out of about 1,000) and first in his age group. He averages three Essentrics workouts of varying lengths each week

Dynamic stretching is an excellent warm-up that can increase power, speed, and agility before an activity*. You may have heard not to stretch before a workout and that is true for static stretching. Static stretching, or holding a stretch, weakens muscles when done as a warm-up**.

Essentrics is a form of dynamic stretching that has been practiced, and evolved, since 1997. Essentrics simultaneously stretches and strengthens all 650 muscles for balanced flexibility and strength. Stand-alone workouts may also be used as a warm-up helping to relax and lubricate joints, increase heart rate to deliver oxygen-rich blood to the muscles, and move your body through its range of motion.

The workout we did pre-race is called “Rebalance Your Connective Tissue.” It’s an Aging Backwards Connective Tissue workout on ETV at www.essentrics.com. I like this one in the morning because it leaves me energized and has a segment for hip mobility, which is handy for runners.

*Why Pre-Workout Stretching is Actually Dangerous” by Brock Armstrong

**”Stretching: The Truth” by Gretchen Reynolds