Improving balance is something we work on with every client. Balance is a motor skill that if you do not use it, you lose it. Since we rarely try to be off balance during our daily activities, the only time we use balance is when we are trying to avoid a fall. This is not the time to figure out you need to improve this motor skill.
This is much more involved than practicing single-leg stance or using unstable surfaces, such as a BOSU or stability ball. We will start clients with those methods to build a base of stability that we can improve upon and move towards more advanced exercises. The challenge with improving balance is the only way to see a positive change is to place you off balance.
On a very simple level, balance is muscle/motor control. If you do not have the fine muscle control to quickly (a topic for another post) activate muscles when your body is not in the position you should be in, then you are bound to become injured in one way or another. Slowly working to improve your balance greatly reduces your risk of injuries and falling.
Balance is also an important part of all sporting activities. When we are outside in an uncontrolled environment (anything other than a flat padded gym floor) your balance plays a role in your ability to perform at a high athletic level. Moving across a field, hill, ski slope, etc. means that you must constantly adjust you body positioning to perform your activity with all the strength and power that you possess. Being out of position means that your strength and power do not flow in the direction you need to succeed. They become channeled to keep you from falling.
When you are working to improve your balance please make sure that you have the ability to grab ahold of a stable surface to avoid a fall. We always start all Bosu work in a squat rack or doorway to ensure safety. The worst case would be an individual falling backwards off the Bosu board. Start slow and gradually increase the repetitions or time that you are trying to stabilize. Take care of yourself.