Are Gymnasts Better Balanced Than Other Athletes?

An excursus through different activities that improve this motor skill

Gymnast Chiara Ferlito standing on a technogym's Arke ball while improving her static balance Body balance could be defined into two main categories. The static balance is the ability to maintain its own body inside a sort of imaginary base of support; a simple example is to maintain the standing position. Instead the dynamic balance is considered as the ability to perform a movement maintaining an overall stable position, for instance walk without falling. Rather that strength or flexibility, balance is the sum these capacities, hence is classified as a coordinative motor skill, and definitely, it is possible to improve both static and dynamic balance through targeted exercise.
However, also different sports can influence body balance. In 2011, Con Hrysomallis, from Victoria University in Melbourne, published a review article about this hot topic. Included studies showed that athletes generally have more developed balance ability compared with non-athletes. This suggests that sport-specific training improves balance and postural control, regardless. In more details, gymnasts tend to have the best static monopedal balance and bipedal dynamic balance abilities. They are followed by soccer players, who don’t differ too much from the first, swimmers and basketball players.

What are the factors that facilitate a better postural control in rhythmic and artistic gymnasts?

Gymnast Chiara Ferlito standing on a technogym's Arke while improving her static balance First off, balance is strongly stimulated by the continuous repetition of specific and technical movements; in fact, these athletes stood out for the skills that are their usual training. In second instance, it has been noted that gymnasts tend to be shorter and lighter than other athletes and these components, especially the height, positively influence balance ability. In addition to the technical movements, what is the best training programme to stimulate balance as well as possible? Balance training might start with simple exercises on a stable surface and with bipedal (normal) stance; then it may progress to a unipedal stance and with an unstable surface, for example foam mat, tilt board, wobble board, inflated rubber disc. Another important role is played by the sight, training with closed eyes stimulates the attention to what sensation I feel with my feet. Afterwards, exercise can get more complicate incorporating movements such as tilting, rotating, squatting, jumping, launch a ball, counteracting the destabilizations caused by the unstable surfaces. Talking of postural control, we can found many ideas in “ARKE” – core centric training – a tools collection designed especially for the functional training by Technogym.

References

ARTICLE:

Con Hrysomallis. Balance Ability and Athletic Performance. Sports Med. 2011; 41(3):221-232. doi: 10.2165/11538560-000000000-00000.

Source

SCIENTIFIC JOURNAL:

Sports Medicine