Movement Highlight: General Balancing Technique

Hey MovNation people!

In yesterday’s blog entry “You Are Meant To Shine” we released a combo-workout video titled “One Step At A Time.”  Today I’d like to highlight some general pointers about efficiency in walking in balance.  Check out this movement video highlight in slow motion.

Efficiency will make any movement look easier than it actually is, and as you may notice, this basic balancing action is performed with efficiency.

  • Begin with straight posture constantly maintained, the spine is kept elongated.  The head may slightly but not exaggeratedly lean forward so I can look down to the surface of support.
  • I always place the ball of the foot on support first.  This allows to better feel the surface and area that is about to support me next, as well as how properly my foot is placed on that surface.  If the proprioceptive feedback I get from it is good, I will then decide that I can safely shift bodyweight from the trail foot to the front foot.  In case anything unpredictable happens in the process of shifting weight to the front foot, I can always push my weight back to the trail foot or swiftly reposition my front foot.  All of this would be way more difficult if I was to place my heel on support first, as this body part doesn’t have as much sensitivity and mobility as the forefoot.
  • I keep my arms and shoulders relaxed, as I do not rely on them for counterbalancing by extending them on each side of my body.  If you think about it, counterbalancing (usually with the arms, but also  the legs, hips or trunk) will only occur when you are already losing balancing and need to recover.  Of course depending on the difficulty of the environment where you are balancing as well as the level of your balancing skills in relation to that environment, counterbalancing may be needed.  But you want to train to rely on the primary joints ensuring stability here, the ankles, knees and hips, and keep them all vertically aligned with a straight posture all the way to toes to head, with minimal disturbing motion on the frontal plane (or any other body plane for that matter).  This is important not only for improving your general balancing skills, but for practical reasons as well.  Indeed, in real world action you may need your arms for holding, throwing or catching a light object, communicating by gestures, or for swiftly transitioning to a jump for instance.  If you must rely on your arms for counterbalancing and maintaining your stance, then you won’t be able to use them for anything else.
  • Breathing:  you may not notice it, but an ample yet relaxed breathing from the abdomen should be constantly maintained.  Breathing control will support good posture, relaxation and focus.  Breathing may not be perceptible from the outside as it is like an internal movement, but breathing efficiently is a certainly a fundamental skill that just like other movement skills must be mastered.

Extract from the Level 1 MovNat Certification Manual

Now you guys get yourself a 8 to 12 footer 2×4 or anything equivalent and start apply those technical reminders.  Everything is interrelated in movement, an improper position of your feet on the surface will force you to compromise with your posture as you shift bodyweight to the front foot, too much relaxation will make you wobbly and create unnecessary counterbalancing tensions, too much tension in the body will alter your breathing, holding your breath will compromise your focus and relaxation etc…Practice until you can walk in balance with a tall posture, relaxed arms and breathing, and precise, well centered placement of your feet on the surface.

After you’ve developed this general technique, and only then does it become time to increase complexity by practicing with more challenging environmental demands such as more narrow, rounded, smoother, less stable or higher surfaces.

Tomorrow I will highlight stepping under.

Now you movnatters GO movnat…Vive La MovNation!

Erwan Le Corre
Founder of MovNat

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2 replies
  1. Aikiology says:

    Great post! I like your inclusion of biomechanical terminology, and your approach on the topic. As simple and intuitive as balancing may seem, after we leave early childhood we seem to “forget” it, or adapt differently.

  2. Erwan says:

    Thanks for your positive feedback Aikiology. Indeed the MovNat coaching system involves biomechanical principles and terminology. A better perception of the universal forces and rules that govern motion both is a very effective way to improve movement patterns and shorten the (re-)learning curve in acquiring or re-acquiring movement skills.
    From our perspective, the foundation for developing greater physical competence (for practical performance) is not general conditioning, but techniques and skills. The increasingly challenging practice of such skills will generate the most applicable conditioning. So emphasizing the acquisition of efficiency in movement right from the start is paramount, and will lay the most solid foundation for the future development of greater conditioning levels. I like to say that “movement comes from the inside out”, you’ve got to be mindful if you want to move well and better, to listen to your body, to connect the mind, body and environment. Despite what some people think, we are not machines. We are unique, complex organic beings and systems, capable of beautiful, sophisticated movements. A general conditioning approach to physical competence that on top of that would encourage mindlessness and discarding body signals will never allow anyone to explore, expand and hone this amazing potential we all hold within us.


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