Tips & Techniques

(Mental) Balance and the Benefits

Jill Ernst 
July 12, 2023

(Mental) Balance and the Benefits

By our summer intern, Liam Spear

Finding my Footing
Before diving right into the bulk of this blog post on balance, I figured I would introduce myself. My name is Liam Spear, a current student at the University of Iowa
studying human physiology as well as an intern at Smith PT and Running Academy. My end goal is to open my own physical therapy clinic and coach high school sports on the side. I have a passion for athletics which has aided in determining the direction my future will follow. Having the opportunity to shadow the amazing physical therapists at Smith PT and Running Academy has allowed me to gain some knowledge and develop my passion more and more. Considering this is my first blog post I’ve ever written, I struggled finding a topic I should write about when balance just popped into my head. When most people
hear balance, some common thoughts that follow are the physical aspects of balance, but to me, balance is so much more than just the physical.

Self Introspection
My original inspiration to write about balance comes from one of my favorite hobbies, golf. I work close to forty hours every week, so my free time is really rare,
especially during the day. Despite my workload through the week, I am also taking a summer finance class for my entrepreneurial certificate in addition to my Bachelor’s degree. Recently, I have been struggling to golf to my normal level of play. Whether it is the lack of time I have to practice or play or just a rut, I have not been shooting what I should usually be shooting. For many of you readers, golf is a foreign language, so I won’t be super technical in describing my golf struggles. The gist of my issues resided in my head. I became overly critical of myself and over analyzed every aspect of my swing, from how I take away my club and how I align myself to the target to the moment the club impacts the ball. It was a jumbled mess in my head that caused me to shoot a really poor score. So what did I do once my day off arrived? I went to the range where I spent a good part of the late morning/ early afternoon hitting hundreds of golf balls trying to find something in my swing that worked. After about an hour and a half of practically forgetting how to swing a club, three highschoolers showed up and began their range
session. I overheard their conversation of them complaining about their recent scores of low 70’s which is very good, and all I could think was how dare they complain about a score I would be ecstatic to shoot. But then I decided that maybe I could learn something by watching them. I ended up pausing my range session and observed them for 5 minutes when I noticed the key to all my problems. I saw this kid be incredibly deliberate with how he took his stance right before he hit the ball. And right before he swung, he tilted his shoulders towards his backfoot to gain some more balance in his stance that would help especially when he impacted the ball. All of the sudden, everything clicked. I asked myself the internal questions, “Have I not been balanced in my swing?,""Have I been overswinging trying to do the work instead of letting my club do the work?” So I mimicked the shoulder tilt, and just like that, the ball went straight, high, and far. I finished my range
session and all I could think to myself was, “I was really off balance before I watched that kid.”

Applying the Revelation to Every Aspect of Life
Once I got home from figuring out my golf swing and with the theme of balance in my head, I had to face the dreaded zoom meeting for my summer class on my one day off work. With work, my finance class, and my internship amongst other daily responsibilities, it was easy for me to feel overwhelmed and stressed and out of balance, but I was soon to be grateful for what my range session taught me. I applied the concept of balance to all of those aspects in my life. I began to figure out a better schedule that had better balance throughout the week. Balance is more than just the physical aspect most people think about when hearing the word balance.
The Benefits of All Forms of Balance
Physical: I'm sure most people are familiar with the physical benefits of balance such as increased coordination, reduced reaction time, reduced risk of injury, etc. Having a strong sense of physical balance allows for a more in tune connection to every part of your body.
Mental: What I really wanted to bring to everyone’s attention is the importance of finding balance mentally. Despite the work week, the kids (if you have any), the errands, and the daily tasks, prioritize free time. Take some time for yourself to reestablish your sense of self. If it hadn’t been for my annoyance at my golf swing that caused me to take some time for myself to figure it out, I would have never been able to apply it to my life. I would have been a mindless robot in which my day consisted of waking up, doing school work, going to Smith PT and Running Academy on Thursdays, and closing at my job and repeating day after day. Finding that alone time to be with your thoughts does not have to involve an activity or even be lengthy. It can be for brief moments of the day or for hours on end. Taking the time to address the mental aspect can ultimately improve overall mood, decrease stress, and regulate emotions and burnout. There are plenty of outlets to find that footing to establish a healthy mental, physical and emotional balance.

About Liam:

♟ Liam is a Woodstock High School graduate, where he played football, basketball, golf and ran track
♟ He is working on his undergrad at University of Iowa, and his next step is persuing his doctorate of physical therapy
♟ He can play the piano, clarinet and sing
♟ And Liam is VERY good at chess

Throughout the summer, Liam will be shadowing our physical therapists and helping us out with special projects.

Meet the Author
Jill joined the Smith PT team in October 2020. She attended Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL, obtaining a degree in public health in 2011. After college, Jill spent 9 years working in wellness, fitness, special events and community engagement. She is an ACE certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor and a Schwinn indoor cycle instructor and uses her knowledge from these certifications to help others stay active and fit.
You were made to move!