Terrain is seldom in your favor; darkness may mask the ground, shadows confuse your vision, your legs are stiff from sitting for hours. All of these factors will ultimately affect your balance. In BLET you were taught stances and foot positions to enhance balance and allow you better and more effective defensive tactics. If you have enhanced your skills with martial arts, boxing, MMA or ju jitsu you have undoubtedly mastered the ability to maintain your balance in a combat situation. Many an officer has found themselves loosing their balance just when you need to keep it the most. There is a way to improve your balance while making yourself stronger, more fit and while improving your offensive and defensive tactics.
As a fitness, rehabilitation and injury prevention specialist I teach a specific technique. In martial arts and many other Asian arts they teach a specific technique. No matter who teaches it, nor where it comes from, the technique is the same and it’s very potent when applied in an altercation.
When confronted with a situation that will require you to use force or when getting ready to fire your weapon or in the gym what I want you to do are two specific things.
1) Root the Floor. This sounds funny but is the ‘root’ of the problem in the first place. Poor posture, improper exercise, muscular and postural imbalances will all cause your center of gravity to shift and this alone will cause your balance to falter at the worst time possible. By simply placing your feet in a ready stance and rooting your feet into the ground you have given your body a chance to fire your musculature in an efficient manner. The more efficient your muscles fire and the better your root to the floor the better your balance will be. Of course this ready stance needs to knees to be slightly flexed but as the LE professional that you are you already knew that.
2) When exercising, or doing any task requiring you to brace against a force or resistance imagine “spreading the floor between your feet”. What I mean is not to roll your feet out but to keep your root to the floor while giving slight out pressure through your thighs and lower leg. What this does is to fire ALL the muscles in your hips and core while doing nothing conscious or out of the ordinary. By having the ability to fire the hips, glutes, legs and abs will do amazing things for your stability and balance no matter what situation you are in. I will be the first to tell you that this technique is awesome in the gym, while practicing martial arts and when shooting.
Next time you are in the gym I encourage you to do all of your workout standing. For each standing exercise make sure to root and then spread the floor. When jumping, especially landing root the ground upon landing softly so your body weight and compressive loads are easily distributed through your large and strong hip muscles and not through your ankle and knee.
When in a physical altercation no matter what way the fight is going root the floor each and every time that your foot contacts the ground. While all this sounds simple, and it is, your chance of losing you balance is drastically reduced.
I strongly encourage you to go back through some of my past columns and look at many of the standing exercises I have recommended. Apply what you have learned here to those exercises and I promise you that your workouts will take on a new and very functional dimension. You may even find a new level of soreness in your body the first few times that you try these techniques. Finally practice rooting the ground in training and while practicing offensive/defensive tactics and I promise you will have found a new level of balanced tactics.
About The Author:
Bryan Fass is the author of “Fit Responder”, a comprehensive wellness plan for the first responder, and the Fit Responder Blog. Bryan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Medicine and is certified as a licensed athletic trainer and a strength and conditioning specialist. He was a paramedic for over 8 years. Bryan has authored four books regarding fitness, wellness and human performance. Bryan is available for Consulting and Speaking on Public Safety Fitness Testing along with Fitness, Wellness and Injury Prevention Programs. Contact him via email to [email protected].