Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Everything is Everything

...an old Donny Hathaway song, and the topic of today's blog post.

"Can Balance Training Promote Balance & Strength in Prepubertal Children?"- Granacher et al, JSCR 6-11.

"Is There an Association Between Variables of Postural Control & Strength in Adolescents?"- Granacher et all, JSCR 6-11.

No & No.
These are two studies that measured balance as the ability to control pertubation- that incuded tests for static as well as dynamic.  The first test had 6&7 year olds trying to keep still on air cushions & wobble boards for 45 minutes 3x per week for 4 weeks.  Funny, but predictable if you were ever an elementary school teacher, the testors had problems with the subjects "attentional focus".  Another words, as soon as the teacher had their back turned, the students were off task.  The protocol failed to produce impovements in "postural sway"- the traditional method balance is measured.

In the 2nd study, the researchers tested a group of 16 year olds on their horizontal leg press performance, a counter movement vertical jump, & the ability to keep still on a stationary/moving surface balance testing device.  No correlation between static & "dynamic" balance, and muscle strength.

Both studies began with stating the importance of adequate balance in preventing injurious falls in the respective age groups.  The problem, as I see it, is the definition of balance.  That concept of "stillness".  Very different than what goes on the athletic field, or real life for that matter.  The eyes looking one way, legs moving the opposite, with the arms maybe moving in another.

The other problem is the idea of trying to isolate balance.  Good balance is more than just the vestibular system.  It requires a certain degree of single leg power, core strength, agility, and even flexibility.  I don't believe its possible to effectively train it independent of other neuromotor skills.  Did those elementary school kids really have attentional focus deficits?  Or did they want to do REALbalance training- skipping, hopping, jumping, stopping & just plain having fun.


Jack Martin said...

It must be summer as I have some time to pose questions that relate to my aging body.
Why is it that I can ride effortlessly with no hands on my road bike, but it is very challenging to stand on one foot or do lunges without staggering a bit?
Off topic-how do I get my body to self-organize to loosen my chronically stiff neck and tight traps and other neck and shoulder muscles?
As always, keep me thinking.

Joe Przytula said...

A lot of issues can effect balance as we get older. Arthrogenic inhibition from arthrosis/old injuries is a biggie. But the fact that you are cognisant of it & do remedial work to ameliorate it is what keeps you going strong. As far as the stiff neck & shoulders, I did a post a while back on self- TSpine mobilizations that would help you a lot. But for some reason, the search command on blogger.com has stopped working & has made looking for old posts nearly impossible. I will peak around a bit & see if I can find it.

sal m said...

Any thought of including stillness in the definition of balance seems off point to me. The process by which people lose and regain their balance happens suddenly, aggressively and requires a great deal of movement; there's nothing "still" about it. There's no time to activate your glutes, turn on your belly or do any of the other things I've heard trainers say while working on balance drills.