Saturday, January 23, 2010

"Functional Balance?"

Coach Jack Martin asks a great question regarding his own experience with balance acquisition following some minor knee surgery.

It's important to set our athlete's up for success. Begin where their strengths are, not their weaknesses. Find that athlete's envelope of function and work at the edges, with the goal of expanding that envelope. Be wary of these guys that insist on standing on unstable surfaces (bosu, tilt boards, dynadisks). It's very rare that in vivo the floor will be moving beneath you, except maybe if you surf or do boating. I'm not saying to avoid it, just saying it should not be the main focus of balance rehab. Teaching yourself to be still on an unstable object has little carryover to function.

If you are confused, take a look at this link to an article on balance by my GAIN buddy Steve Myrland. Steve takes his que on balance training from Bruce Lee's "The Art of Jeet Kune Do". On page 4 Steve gives a great synopsis of what a great balance progression should look like:'s%20Condition%20Handout%20-%202002%20Clinic.pdf


Jack Martin said...

Joe, Thanks for the information, I have printed the page and will add it to my rehab today. Another question: what effect does a bunion have on functional balance. I have no pain but sense a bit of a loss of balance as a resultof the bunion?
Thanks. Jack Martin

Joe Przytula said...

Coach Martin- If I understand you correctly you're saying the hallux valugus has narrowed your base of support. Theoretically I guess that's possible, expecially when the COG translates medially or opposite side rotational. However, the human body is incredibly adaptable! I've worked with handicapped kids in the past who were missing part of their foot & they adapt beautifully. Be patient; we are older & it takes a little longer for the nervous system to adapt than the 6 weeks that is typically alloted to physical therapy. Never forget that in function, no one physical competancy stands alone. In balance, that means power/agility are integrated-some 3D agility ladder work as part of your warmup will go a long way with improving your balance. Doing it barefoot on a soft surface like grass or field turf once in a while is a great idea.

I don't like to piecemeal this stuff, but an exercise specific to your issue would look like the one I described here:

You may need to begin them with stability tweaks, like a light hand touch on a wall, or maybe placing the foot inverted on a slant board.

Oh yeah, don't forget to have Doc Bonsall do some ART to your flexor digitorum/flexor hallicus longus, & 1st MP joint.

Jack Martin said...

Thanks again. My therapist has me do variations of these to work in all planes. At my age (63) I am too aware of the time required to adjust. This is why am trying to work back from ground zero when it comes to balance and more importantly strength throughout the posterior chain. Jack Martin