Assessment and rehab of movement control and balance

I’ve mentioned movement control and balance in most of my blogs on injury management. It’s one of what I think of as the Big Three; Movement control, range of movement and strength. If you have all three you’re onto a winner and less likely to struggle with injury. It’s also likely to improve your running economy, making you run more efficiently with less energy expenditure.

When assessing balance it’s best to start with the basics; single leg balance and single knee dip. When you can manage these, and their variations with ease and good control then you can progress on to more advanced work, including multidirectional exercises and impact control. So let’s start with assessing single leg balance;

Then single knee dip;

Use a mirror and assess yourself with these 2 tests. If you struggle to maintain balance or to do the dip without excessive trunk, knee or ankle movement then you can rehab this with some of the suggestions in the next videos. To improve single leg balance pick 2 or 3 of the exercises that you find challenging and aim to maintain your balance with good leg alignment for 10-20 seconds. Repeat roughly 10-15 times or stop if you start to fatigue and lose movement control.

If you struggle with single knee dip, try some of the following exercises and again focus on good control. This is a dynamic exercise rather than a static one so we aren’t focussing on a hold, rather aiming at 10-15 good quality reps, you can increase or decrease this if you want but it’s usually a good place to start.

If you really struggle with balance you may have a strength or range of movement issue that needs addressing too. For example, it’s very hard to balance with very weak glutes or if your ankle range of movement is limited. In the third video note how much my ankle has to move initially when I use the rockerboard on 1 leg, without that flexibility the ankle can’t change position to help maintain balance.

People may point out that these 2 exercises are a little basic and they’re right. There are a lot more advanced control exercises that challenge in multiple directions and at higher speed but a good grounding of basic balance and movement control is needed before progressing to these.