top of page

5 simple balance tests

MAY 28, 2022

Minute 1: 5 simple steps to test your balance

There are a lot of dimensions to your fitness that are easy to test. Every time you go for a timed run, or pick up a heavy weight, you’re getting immediate feedback on your speed, endurance and strength. In contrast, we don’t often seek to check our balance, and that could be problematic – not only for winter runners battling icy roads, but also for all runners hoping to stay healthy. “The Benefits of Balance Training for Runners” include a lower risk of ankle injuries and, possibly, a reduction in problems caused by repetitive motion. If you want a fun, quick assessment of your inner gyroscope, check out: “Test Your Balance With Balance Tests.” For example, close your eyes and stand with your feet together, and then in tandem, for 30 seconds. If you’re able to do that without swaying or falling over, that’s a good sign. You can then move on to trying on 1 foot at a time. That’s a bit harder, but if you can’t hold it the full duration, it’s okay, because “You Can Actually Do Something About How Clumsy You Are.” Proprioception is your body’s ability to sense movement, action, and location, and activities like strength training can improve it quite a bit, especially in beginners. Single leg exercises are one way to improve, but if you want to get out of the gym and into nature to work on balance, trail running will do just that: “How Trail Running Can Transform Your Body.” The soft, forgiving nature of trail surfaces actually demands more from your stabilizer muscles, so you can expect to see growth in your calves and core strength. As an added bonus, trail running burns about 10% more calories per distance when compared to road running.

Minute 2: Do cushioned running shoes cause fewer injuries?

About a decade ago, the best-selling book “Born to Run” advanced the theory that the best running shoes were no shoes at all. There is some science behind that viewpoint, but most analysts agree that barefoot or minimalist shoe running is probably not the best idea for everyone. At around the same time, ultra-cushioned shoes like HOKAs surged in popularity, and the battle lines were drawn. A thoughtful piece from Trail Runner helps answer the question of which shoe type is safest: “Untangling Running’s Shoe Cushioning Paradox.” Although firmer shoes were shown in 1 respected study to correlate with a 52% increase in running injuries, the answer was actually more nuanced. The extra cushion, it turns out, essentially dares you to land with a loud thud, rather than a light foot fall. When you take a step as you run, there are 2 distinct impact forces applied. First, the impact of your foot hitting the ground. Then, the weight of your body being pressed into your foot. With cushioned shoes, the duration of these forces overlap, causing the peak impact measurement to be greater than that of a minimalist shoe. So when does the minimalist shoe offer an advantage? One answer can be found in “Can certain running shoes prevent injury?” If you’ve got strong feet, but a history of knee or hip pain, minimalist footwear can shift some of the impact away from these troubled areas. You’ll have to try them out to see if it’s right for you, but whenever you make a transition, it’s important to do so gradually, giving your body time to adjust and modify the gait you use. #RunningDebate

Minute 3: Why you need fat in your diet

Despite what diet books in the ‘70s and ‘80s claimed, not all fats are bad. Consuming fat won’t necessarily change your body percentage for the worse. In fact, fat is a necessary part of a balanced diet and an excellent energy source for endurance athletes. If you want to understand how to eat fats the healthy way, as well as understand the benefits they bring, check out this piece from Live Science: “What is dietary fat?” One reason why we need fat is for storage of certain vitamins, including vitamin A, D, E, and K that are fat soluble. Fats also keep our hair and skin healthy, as well as contribute to normal brain development and function. At the risk of oversimplifying things, we’ll tell you that experts recommend limiting your trans and saturated fat intake, while encouraging the consumption of mono and polyunsaturated fats, which can be found in avocados, olive oil, and fish. Consuming a bit of fat every day is good, because it helps signal to your body that it’s a viable source of energy. For more on that, read “Train Your Body to Burn Fat Over Carbohydrates.” During longer bouts of exercise, like a marathon or long bike ride, your body is bound to exhaust its supply of glycogen, the energy source that comes from carbohydrates. To avoid “hitting the wall,” your body is going to need to be efficient at burning fat for energy. Eating more fats and less carbs, as well as incorporating long, slow training days into your routine will let your body get used to burning fat for fuel.

Minute 4: Research says 1 hour of TV or less is best

It’s never been so easy to binge watch video content, thanks to buttons like “Next Episode” and “Are You Still Watching?” provided by streaming services. Health experts are concerned about that phenomenon. Research conducted at the University of Cambridge studied the effect of watching TV on heart health, and you can read their findings in “How Many Minutes of TV Can You Watch a Day Before It Becomes Dangerous?” Those who watched 4 or more hours of TV a day were at a fairly high increased risk for heart disease. Watching only 2 to 3 hours lowered the risk by 6%, and 1 hour or less reduced it by 16%. The viewing alone isn’t the whole problem. Since we often watch TV after dinner, and right before bed, we’re taking in a lot of calories and raising our blood sugar without giving ourselves the opportunity to burn it off. That can disrupt sleep, leading to further negative health effects. Watching TV while walking or running on a treadmill can limit the negative effects, but even that carries some risks according to: “Q&A: How Bad Is It To Watch TV While on The Treadmill?” Admittedly, TV and exercise is a bit of a compromise; your workout probably won’t be quite as good, and you may miss a few plot points here and there. However, if it keeps you happy, and you’re able to do it from a comfortable position, more power to you. For a little extra motivation, you can even throw on one of the “Best Running Movies: 10 To Help Find that Mojo” or “The 9 Best Sports Documentaries on Netflix.”

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • Tom Cruise’s on-screen running feats have inspired his costars and Instagram creators alike, but we’re still wondering if it’s form over function, or the real deal. Lucky for us, a few professional runners have taken a look, breaking down his technique and estimating speed to arrive at the conclusion that yes, Tom can cruise with the best of them. He’s got control, explosiveness, and focus; all the marks of a great sprinter. You may just learn a thing or 2 about your own running form if you check out ESPN’s take: “Tom Cruise runs. But is he any good at it?

  • We love seeing the synergy between exercise and mental health. It’s just one of many reasons to feel good about giving yourself the gift of endurance sports. Apart from the obvious benefits, like the release of endorphins in the brain, exercise can be an opportunity for introspection and meditation. It turns out that exercise may even boost the efficacy of therapy. Researchers aren’t exactly sure how or why this is, but you can see the evidence in “Can Exercise Help Make Therapy More Effective? A Pair of Studies Suggests It Might.” In fact, according to respected research, “regular aerobic exercise is as effective as antidepressants.”

  • Fastpacks are to backpacks what sports cars are to an SUV. When you need to prioritize mobility and control, but still have the space for essentials on the trail, it’s the way to go. It’s a relatively new piece of gear, and manufacturers are testing out all sorts of material and construction to see what works best. If you want to find out who’s hit the mark so far, you should read the “Best Fastpacks of 2022.”

  • If you are striving to be the coolest kid on your block – but you’re doing it in conventional sports apparel – your quest may be slowed down by 20-pound ankle weights. Why not press the easy button and show your friends and neighbors your hipster street cred by shopping at our all new SMM Gear Store? I mean really, why not? Six Minute Mile hoodies, singlets, t-shirts and hats are sure to boost your image while helping out a humble email newsletter.

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Posting a speedy marathon time is great and all but enjoying yourself on the course should always be priority number one. We buy $200 shoes, train for hundreds of hours and then spend thousands of dollars to get to races so it can sometimes be easy to forget that we're really partaking in a silly simple sport. If you are looking for examples of how to have fun on race day look no further than the video below. In the midst of one of the most sought after running events in the world, the NYC Marathon, this gentleman stops everything he’s doing to bust out some excellent dance moves. He might’ve sacrificed an enormous amount of prize money, or just 30 seconds on to his final time, but the crowd goes bananas and I’m sure he energized his approaching running mates. If his sponsors end up dropping him from an endorsement contract we know a email newsletter that would love to get him decked out for his next race.


bottom of page