By: Gabriella DeBono

We all know what balance is. It’s standing on one foot— or jumping and spinning on
less than quarter inch blades! But what does having good balance really mean?
By definition, balance is being able to stay steady within a base of support. A good
example of this is finding the sweet spot of your blade during a spin. No matter how
complicated your position, you have to find a way to centre your body weight over one
spot. Your body does this by using information from your senses and nervous system–
as well as your muscles to keep you strong.

Proprioception

An important part of balance is something called proprioception. Broken down, the word
translates to, “to receive one’s own”. It is the “internal” component of balance because it
is your body’s way of knowing where it is in space. For example: an example of
proprioception would be your ability to exactly recreate a position you were previously
put in. To do this, the nerves in your muscles and tendons would have to sense where
the position was before to recreate it again! Proprioception is an important bodily
awareness for figure skaters– but isolating exercises to improve proprioception is
trickier than you think.

Practicing Balance and Proprioception

Balance exercises can include performing movements on stable ground or an unstable
surface like a bosu ball. Although balance and proprioception are not the same thing,
you will train proprioception when you do balance exercises. But, increasing the
difficulty of your balance exercises, by adding an unstable surface for example, doesn’t
necessarily increase your body’s focus on proprioception. Challenging your other
senses, like closing your eyes or adjusting to unexpected interruptions in balance, is a
more effective route to proprioception improvement.

For more information on proprioception visit:

Strength and Conditioning Journal: June 2011 – Volume 33 – Issue 3 – p 111-118 > Proprioception in Sports Medicine and Athletic Conditioning

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