Does Better Balance Help You To Become A Better Runner?

June 2 | Posted by The Staff | Tips

Over the years Kenya has consistently been represented by the worlds’ best runners, which sparked the interest and curiosity from both professional athletes and coaches alike. Lisa Norden, a Swedish professional triathlete traveled to Kenya so that she could train at one of the running camps there and learn their fundamentals for excellence first hand. After completing her training at the running camp in Kenya, she reported that she had gained tremendous insight into balance and the significant impact that it had on running.

Running on the bumpy dirt roads of Kenya proved to be quite a challenge for Norden, and maintaining her balance alone took a considerable amount of energy. The Kenya runners train without the support of good running shoes and on a surface quite different from the flat, level track. Balance is a skill that is acquired through training, just like the stages a baby goes through that lead up to those first few steps.

The mechanics of running cause your center of gravity to be in a steady forward motion, which means that your running energy is divided between pushing forward and keeping yourself from falling. Every time that your foot hits the ground it takes both stability and balance to avoid falling down. They are two very separate functions that can be misinterpreted as the same. Stability actually describes the condition that the body is in when the need for active balancing is minimal. It refers to the bodies alignment when your foot hits the ground and the muscles ability to keep the joints from buckling from the impact. Unlike the condition or state of stability, balance is the skill of using those muscles as well as shifting the alignment of your body to prevent falling down. Runners often focus on improving stability mainly because it will improve your balance, and reduce the amount of energy you would have to use to maintain it. Most runners will waste a lot of energy having to balance themselves and unknowingly hinder its development. The smooth tracks that they run on as well as the cushioned support of their shoes offer enough instant stability to diminish the need for balance development.

The runners from Kenya whose training incorporated balance development can channel a greater amount of energy to the push forward and consistently achieve greater results. As balance development increases greater levels of relaxation rise at a relatively consistent rate. Balance development initially requires a considerable amount of energy output that leave the muscles tense and stiff. The longer that you train the easier it becomes, and the decrease in demand for energy enables the muscles to relax, and devote more of that energy directly to the run.

There are several easy ways to start improving your balance right away. Take a break from the track and paved road run with some occasional trail runs. Barefoot running, if possible is a great way to improve balance without having to begin a separate balance workout. Any exercise that tests your equilibrium, such as single leg squats or standing on a wobble board can easily be included into your strength training workout to improve your balance as well.

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