Fixing Your Balance
Amanda Thebe, DVRT Master (Fit N’ Chips)
It all started on a dark, stormy London evening in 2000, I was running through Walthamstow in London’s East End when my foot fell into a pothole and I landed in a crumpled heap on the roadside. The end result was years of pain in my hip leaving one side higher than the other, so yeah, I was a little wonky. After lots of physio treatment and plenty of accommodations to my workout schedule so that I didn’t aggravate the issue any further, I basically resigned myself to the fact that I would just be asymmetrical and soldiered on as only the British can do! (I’m British by the way!)
Even with my dedication to yoga and movement based training (at least what I thought was the right stuff), I still noticed this difference in my hip being a chink in my armor. I didn’t realize how noticeable it was until I received some warm ribbing from my fellow DVRT Master Trainers at last years Master Trainers Summit. We had declared that I had one leg longer than the other, however, after a bit of further inspection what we actually found was the impact my hip was having upon my posture and movement. My hip had hiked up (probably to avoid some of the pain or dysfunction the fall created) and it gave the appearance that my leg was shorter. Now, it wasn’t as though you would think I was a pirate walking down the street. No, it was subtle, but think about the impact of having such a discrepancy in movement. I considered myself extremely fortunate that I didn’t develop knee and low back pain (must have been some of the DVRT training I had started implementing at the time).
Nothing like having someone coach you and see things that you may just be unable to!
When I got back home to Toronto, I decided to get my physio to check it out again. After a few sessions we had a break-through, and my hips are now basically back on the same level. Anybody who is having physio or going through rehab knows that following a specific exercise workout is integral to your recovery , so I realized now that this is where my work started.
From a personal level, I have been focusing on unilateral leg work in an effort to strengthen my hip and solidify my range of motion, especially through the psoas region (still a little ouchy in there). When you let an injury marinate for almost 15 years, it takes a bit more time and dedication to get things right! However, I have already seen a focus shift in my training. It isn’t JUST about building flexibility/mobility in my hips. Rather, learning to move well AND have balanced strength in my body. It just isn’t my hip, it is my core, it is my lower leg, heck, even my foot that has to get stronger! That is why I have focused on series of DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training movements like in today’s video.
Unlike a lot of traditional rehab that is kinda boring and seems a bit antagonistic to fitness, these types of series still give you a heck of a workout and make you better. Novel idea, I know!! Check out how you do in such a series and you might find that spending time on some of these DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training drills will make your more balanced and stronger, even if you never fell in a pothole:)
You can see from this video that I am still losing my balance slightly , but my form is definitely improving and I am not overcompensating on my left side anymore. This sequence consists of:
rotational lunge to clean
forward lunge to overhead press
I deliberately use a smaller Ultimate Sandbag, in this case a Power Ultimate Sandbag of around 30lbs, and seriously this is enough to challenge my balance and strength. Working unilaterally has so many benefits when included in your fitness plan, try them to iron out those compensations and limitations by focusing on your imbalances. You can use this as part of your warm-up or a workout in of itself! You can do either….
8 reps x 1 Legged Deadlifts
6 reps x 1 Legged Rows
4 reps x Rotational Lunge to clean
2 reps x Forward Lunge to Press
So, you can do this with as little rest as possible for 3-5 rounds since you have to do both sides. Splitting up the exercises sometimes is a bit easier in learning them.
Of course, you can also try them as one series like I showed in the video. I would recommend trying to do 4-6 reps of them all and doing as many sets as you can in 20 minutes. Whew, that is a workout!
I hope this helps you find your “balanced strength” and most of all make you feel and perform better!