When we develop balance there are generally two components to it. There is static and dynamic. But what do these mean?
Here are a few terms we will be using:
- Base of Support – This is the area that your weight is spread out over. If you are standing it is your two feet. For example you have a larger base of support if you spread your feet wider than your shoulders and a smaller base if you place your feet right next to each other.
- Center of Mass – This is where your ‘middle’ falls. For example, if you were trying to put us on rocker board, we would need to shift our weight around so we are in the middle to keep it level. That’s basically where our center of mass is. If you were to reach or shift to one foot over the other, your center of mass in relation to the ground changes.
We need to use our balance when our center of mass changes in relation to our base of support. This is what let’s us be able to reach for something without toppling over, or to walk up or down a hill and stay upright!
So, what is the difference between static and dynamic balance? I will try to explain them here:
- Static Balance – Generally when your center of mass stays in your base of support. Do you remember those old weeble wobble punching bags that you would hit and they would fall over but pop right back up? This was because their center of mass was at the bottom and never left their base of support. So all they had to do was manage their center of mass within the base of support. I know, this sounds very technical. Basically if you are standing still and don’t make any super large movements you are employing static balance.
- Dynamic Balance – This is when we are controlling movement. This could look like our center of mass is moving outside our base of support, such as if we are reaching for something far away but don’t get up from our chair or move our feet. It also looks like when our center of mass is moving, such as when we are walking or if we are riding on something that is moving. So even if our center of mass is staying inside the base of support, if our base of support is moving, that is dynamic balance. This would be like riding a skateboard!
Both of these components are important. Building static balance first is important because it helps to build the foundation. Could you imagine trying to walk if you can’t stand? Or crawl if you can’t maintain hands and knees? Once you have the static stability you can start to use that stability to move with.