We’ve been told that success requires blood, sweat, and tears, and for that reason, we pour everything into reaching our goals. Indeed, success requires hard work, determination, and persistence. However, there is a piece of the equation that is missing, and that piece is balance and stability.
Balance and stability are essential to a well-rounded life and a well-functioning body. Optimum performance is achieved only when there is harmony between your thoughts and your actions. We need both physical and mental balance to keep our bodies and minds on the right track.
Let’s explore the importance of building these two necessary elements, and how we can develop them to maintain a healthy body and mind, in and out of the ring.
What’s the Difference Between Balance & Stability?
The terms balance and stability are often used interchangeably, though there are unique differences to each.
Balance is the ability of the body and mind to maintain equilibrium and flexibility without the interference of outside forces. For example, someone who can stand on one leg has good physical balance. Or, someone who is good at budgeting their money by both saving and spending, has a balanced mind.
Stability takes it a step further. Stability is the ability of the body and mind to remain in a state of balance despite forces that threaten to disturb it. In keeping with the examples above, someone who can stand on one leg on top of a BOSU ball not only has excellent physical balance but stability as well. If someone can budget their money even when there are strong temptations around them to spend it all, they have a stable mind.
Balance is the starting point. It’s a critical skill, but it’s also basic. Stability, on the other hand, develops as one becomes more experienced and can maintain that balance over time.
Importance of Physical Balance & Stability
In the world of fitness, balance and stability are highly overlooked skills, yet are arguably the most important. Why? Well, in a nutshell, we need them ALL THE TIME!
Balance and stability training strengthens the core. Core strength improves coordination, posture, overall strength, and athletic skill. It also helps prevent injuries and protects the joints. Developing these two skills will also keep you healthy as you age by helping to prevent dangerous falls. Falls are the leading cause of death from injury among people 65 and older.
Improving your balance and stability isn’t just great for normal, everyday movement, it will also help you to become a better athlete and boxer. Engaging in balance and stability training creates a stronger center of gravity, which is vital to maintaining your balance in the ring.
Think of how often you have to duck punches or use the power of your body to throw a jab. It’s easy to lose your balance and stumble. Stability training will help you have more control over your body in the ring. It also helps to improve your coordination and reaction time, two skills that will help you to become a stronger boxer.
Training as a boxer is about much more than strong arms and quick punches. Balance and stability are fundamental to your growth as an athlete.
Exercises to Improve Physical Balance & Stability
Here are a few exercises to help you improve your balance and stability skills:
- Footwork Drills: Footwork may have a lot to do with your feet but it uses your entire body. You want to move your center of gravity with every step that you take. Footwork drills will allow you to get more comfortable moving your feet while also paying attention to the alignment of your upper body.
- Shadowboxing: Shadowboxing trains you to punch while maintaining your balance. Because you are hitting the air, you are more likely to become off balance if you punch too hard. Shadowboxing teaches you how to control the power and force of your punch.
- Medicine Ball: Training with a medicine ball is a great way to improve full-body strength as well as balance. Rather than just using your arms, throwing the ball should start in the feet. Thus, you need a stable stance and base position. You’ll also need to keep your body steady as you both throw and catch the ball.
- Core Training: Your core is the essence of balance and stability. Core exercises train the muscles in your abdomen, pelvis, hips and lower back to work in tune with each other. Balance and stability depend on core strength.
Importance of Mental Balance & Stability
As humans, we experience a wide range of emotions and some emotional reactions can be quite intense. As we experience anger, fear, joy, sadness, anxiety, excitement, desire, and beyond, we need to learn how to balance our emotions so we don’t fall into extremes.
Too much of any emotion can cause your downfall. Too much anger can cause you to say or do things you later regret. Too much anxiety can cause you to avoid situations that may, in fact, be helpful to you. Too much confidence can cause you to become arrogant and forget how to be humble.
In small doses, however, these emotions can be of benefit. A little anxiety can be just the push you need to accomplish a goal. A dose of confidence can help you excel in your career or the ring. A touch of anger might help you to defend yourself when someone has wronged you.
We often mention that boxing is not merely a physical sport, but an emotional one as well. While uncontrolled emotions can take over your life, they can also get in the way of your performance in the boxing studio. Creating balance in the body and the mind will allow for optimum performance, both in the ring and in your everyday life.
Exercises to Strengthen Emotional Balance & Stability
Just as with the physical aspect, you can strengthen emotional balance and stability through simple exercises. Here are a few you can try:
- Breathing: When you feel intense emotions coming on, try engaging in some deep breathing. It’s OK to feel your emotions, but breathing can help to tone them down and rationalize them.
- Make a List: Jot down your emotions, particularly when they’re very heavy. Write down what you felt, why you felt it, and how you handled it. This practice will make you more aware of your emotions and will help you to better balance them in the future.
- Use Your Senses: Intense emotions can be brought down by using your physical senses. Try things like touching something soft, listening to something relaxing, or smelling a delicious scent (like aromatherapy).
In practicing all of these exercises, remember that the goal is not to do away with your emotions but instead gain a balance between feeling and not letting those feelings overpower you.
Boxing is an incredible sport to help you develop balance and stability of the body and mind. Talk to one of our Gloveworx coaches today to get started in the ring!