From day one, it was pretty clear that balance is key to being successful at parkour. It’s also key to being successful at, say, walking, so most people do have some degree of proficiency from the get go. Parkour offers a way to upgrade those balancing skills to help us in daily life as well as in the practice.
The first thing I had to try was balancing on a rail. That’s it. Just standing on it. I was completely floored by how difficult this was for me. I came into this with the ability to run along a curb just fine, balance on one leg, do a tree post in yoga, and grab my leg behind my back and touch the floor on one foot. But once the rail was introduced I felt like a cerebellar hypoplasia kitten trying to walk a tight rope. I couldn’t believe how tough it was the first time.
Some of the things I’ve been introduced to recently in class that require great balance are:
- standing on a rail (on one leg or two)
- walking on a rail
- crouching on a rail
- precision jumps to and from a rail
- vaulting to a rail
- safety vaults
- cat balances
I have no doubt there are plenty of other items that will require some insane balance skills, including handstands, which I have yet to achieve without the aid of a wall. So what can you do to improve your balance?
- Try standing on one leg in the kitchen while fixing dinner.
- Walk along the lines in your flooring, using them as pretend rails
- Get or make a balance board or use a bosu ball to train your proprioception
The thing that helped me the most BY FAR is pulling in my core muscles and straightening my hips. I have a tendency to stand with my hips pulled back at an angle, causing pain in my lower back. This also allows extra movement in my core, making it harder for me to stabilize myself when trying to balance. When I pull my hips in straight and really tighten my core muscles, it makes it at least 50% easier for me to stand and walk on a rail than when I don’t concentrate on my core.
For more info on training balance, read this great balance article from Parkour Generations.
That’s it for now!