Stability – The Foundation of All Movements
The definition of the root word ‘stable’ is “not likely to give way or overturn; firmly fixed”. In other words, stability is our ability to maintain an upright and neutral position while doing anything while standing. Yes, even standing itself. Whether or not we realize it, there are always external stimuli and forces that act upon us and challenge our stability. Have you heard about this thing called gravity? Remember that time when you were just standing there and almost fell over under your own weight? I certainly do. That’s gravity.
What about walking where you’re constantly putting yourself in a state of imbalance? That’s right – with every step you’re reducing your base of support by raising one leg! So how is it that we, so effortlessly, stay upright? How is it that we maintain a perpetual state of stability? Well, through our day to day activities, we’ve inherently trained ourselves to be stable – in certain activities. That’s really all that functional training is. Walking is a functional movement that we practice every day so we better be good at them! But is that good enough? What if we increased the level of difficulty to jogging, running, climbing stairs, jumping, or throwing? Is our “training” still adequate?
Why is Stability Training Important?
Concepts such as “stability training” are immediately associated with elite athletes because athletes are required to make movements that are much more aggressive in nature than the average person and athletes are subject to external forces (body contact, etc.) that we can’t even comprehend.
That being said, we cannot overlook the importance of stability training in our day to day lives. We are in a perpetual state of movement and our every movement can be made easier if we trained and enhanced our ability to maintain stability while subject to external stimuli. On a daily basis, we do much more than stand and walk. We run, we play with our kids, we carry our kids, we carry groceries, we throw, we jump. We’re ALWAYS moving. While moving with efficiency is often associated with strength and endurance, every move that you make shifts your center of gravity and thereby challenges your stability.
Therefore, a well-rounded training program will include exercises and movements that take you out of balance and activate and challenge your core and the stabilization muscles around your joints to force them to develop, adapt and strengthen.
How I Train Stability
As mentioned above, every time you move, your center of gravity shifts thereby challenging your stability. So, to train stability, I intentionally put myself in positions such that my center of gravity is shifted more than my day to day activities would. This includes adding a unilateral load (weight on one side of my body), reducing my base of support (standing one-legged), and introducing resisted movements while under one (or both) of the previous states. This challenges both my core stability and the strength of the stabilization muscles surrounding my ankle, knee, and hip joints. This training concept is so important but far too often overlooked. I rarely use heavy loads and always use resistance bands. The variable resistance offered by bands allows me to progress deeper into my exercise with limited risk of injury and little impact to joints – something that free weights just can’t offer.
It’s time that we all start doing stability training. Your body will thank you for it.