What’s your balance got to do with your pain?

Are you as amazed as I am by some of the feats that performers of Cirque du Soleil can pull off? Is this a God given talent or thousands of hours of practice? I am sure it is both.

Balance is one of those physical traits that are subject to the, “if you don’t use it, you lose it” principle. It is also a trait that can be dramatically improved upon when progressively challenged.

Balance plays a critical role in athletic and life performance. Great athletes have exceptional balance that allows them to quickly change direction, effectively recover from movement errors and position their bodies in ways that maximizes performance and minimizes the risk of injury.

Balance also plays a key role in our everyday safety. This is clearly evident in the unfortunate frequency of falls and injuries to the senior population. What is even more unfortunate is that many of these falls can be prevented.

But balance is not just about avoiding falling over. It’s also about helping us find the most stable or safe position when our environment around us changes. How quickly and effectively we react to those changes can be the difference between a shot of adrenaline and a herniated disc in the back.

Balance equates to control. Lack of balance=lack of control. And like a car unable to stop properly or control its steering accurately, the body with poor balance is an accident waiting to happen.

Regardless of our age, we all have the same basic mechanisms that give us balance or help us restore balance. These can be thought of as information gatherers that tell our muscles what to do. These information gatherers include:

* Vision
* Inner ear
* Stretch receptors in the muscles
* Movement receptors in the joints
* Touch and pressure receptors on the skin (particularly the soles of the feet)

The difference between great balance and not-so-great balance is dependent on two main factors:

1. How fast our nervous system receives and processes the signals from our information gatherers
2. How quickly and efficiently our muscles act on that information to make the appropriate adjustments

The wonderful news is that both of these factors can be improved upon. Doing so will improve performance for some and reduce the risks of injury or falls for others.

Balance training goes way beyond standing on one leg statically or standing on one leg while performing other movements. Single leg standing probably falls in the area between beginning and intermediate balance work. Standing still on one leg is closer to the beginning scale and moving your upper body while on one leg would be more toward intermediate.

Beginning balance training might include just standing still with the eyes closed to remove the outer visual references from helping. Another beginning balance work might be to tilt the head back. Doing sore moves the contribution of the inner ear for balance. Combining these or doing these on one leg would certainly increase the level of difficulty.

Intermediate balance training might include active one-legged exercises such as lunges or directional changes on one leg. Intermediate balance work might also include maintaining static stability while supported on an unstable piece of equipment such as a wobble board or physio-ball.

More advanced balance training might include explosive work on one leg such as hopping. Adding dynamic movement to the unstable apparatus will increase the level of difficulty significantly. For example, doing squats while standing on a BOSU ball or lunges on a balance beam.

The Core-Tex(TM), a new piece of equipment that I have developed works on reaction. This type of equipment challenges you by taking you out of balance within a limited area and requiring your nervous system to immediately react to that dynamically.

Balance exercises should enhance musculoskeletal stability and improve performance for sport or life. Therefore, never progress yourself until you have demonstrated a proficiency at a less challenging level. Frustration, compensation (and even humiliation!) will result if you don’t progress properly.

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6 Responses to “What’s your balance got to do with your pain?”

  1. Greg Smith says:

    What does it cost? What training materials are included? What type of guarantee?

  2. Hi Greg,

    The Core-Tex Complete with handrail retails for $575.00. It comes with an educational DVD that includes exercises as well as assembly (minimal) and safety guidelines. The clip you see is taken from that video.

    There is a one year warranty on all parts. The beauty of the Core-Tex is that it is very “low-tech”. Very few moving parts and no electronics to worry about.

    You can get more info here:


  3. randy brewer says:

    The coretex looks very interesting. Why so expensive though? If you have something that can help a multitude of individuals why not make it more affordable so that it can get out in the market? I am not saying you shouldn’t make money on the device but every where we turn trainers are trying to significantly profit from the health and fitness industry. I appreciate your thoughts.


  4. Thanks for your comments Randy. The Core-Tex is actually priced on formulas used when we have to factor in manufacturing, material and marketing costs. We’ve worked with several manufacturers and distributors to determine the sale price.

    Interestingly, we’ve had many people comment just the opposite. They were surprised at how inexpensive it is once they saw the versatility of the product.

    You’d probably feel differently about the price if you had a chance to try it out.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “every where we turn trainers are trying to significantly profit from the health and fitness industry”. Fitness professionals are trying to make a living just like everyone else. We’ve got mortgages, kids to support, etc. And the commitment and emotional investment we bring to our clients is usually much more than other professions. I love the quote by the speaker Jim Rohn, “You don’t get paid by the hour. You get paid for what you bring to the hour”.

    People don’t seem to think twice about paying $300 an hour for a lawyer right out of law school who is ill prepared to handle their case. Yet it’s a different story when it comes to making financial commitments to their health outside of their health insurance premiums.

    I’m not sure that’s getting to your question or not. Please know that getting a piece of equipment from the concept stage to production to sales is a long and expensive process. Did you know when the BOSU first came out it retailed for $250!

  5. Nick Outlaw says:

    Thanks Anthony for your explanation to Randy. I appreciate your professionalism and commitment to raise the standards of the health and fitness industry. There is a great need/demand to connect and unite fitness with the medical field. You have been instrumental in my development as a personal trainer. Best of luck, I look forward to learning more from you!

    Nick Outlaw CPT, ACSM

  6. Mary Wood says:

    In addition to being a personal trainer, etc… I am a middle school physical educator and have begun incorporating “Club Fitness units.” I incorporate many of the balance challenges using the minimal equipment I have available. The students are hugely receptive. The components of balance that you have written about in this article correspond to our state curriculum. Is there any opportunity for grants to the public school to get your equipment and become a “demo” school? As a member of MAHPERD I would also present the unit and your equipment at various state and national conferences.