Side balance, y scale, whatever you call it! I love this skill so much! I just love any sort of leg pose/exercise. Not only can this skill be done standing, but it transfers frequently to aerial, pole, dance, and other disciplines.
Even though it is in the name, balance is such an important part of this skill. I have seen so many people who totally have the flexibility and strength to do this skill, but their stabilization and balance in the standing foot is rough. And the foot is the base of this move...if the base is wobbly and weak, the rest of the body will have no support. Therefore, practicing balance exercises are super beneficial for side balance. The leg off the floor doesn't have to be high up either...the leg can be low and the emphasis should be placed on keeping the weight in the ball of the standing foot.
I feel like I am glutes' number one fan...I think they are so incredibly important for side balance! The glutes help make sure the leg actually stays side, and doesn't start to creep forward. A very common thing that happens with side balance is we lift our leg up and instead of the leg being truly side, we start to rotate the hips diagonal, making the leg actually be forward. This is deceiving though, because the torso is still facing the front...so we are just super twisted in the hips and spine and we are not able to activate the correct muscles. So the glutes are very important in making the hips stay facing front, helping the leg to actually be to the side of us, versus being too forward.
~"Rochelle, I am not a ground performer, I do not need this skill!"~
Chill, chill, chill, yes I see that point...however, I would like to counter with this: in many disciplines, there is some sort of variation of a side balance. Aerial, pole, acrobatics, and many other disciplines have side balance in them. And yes, maybe you are not standing on the ground doing the skill, but you are doing a variation of it in the air. In aerial, you are constantly grabbing a leg and extending it side. So being able to do this skill on the ground will transfer so nicely to the air. I think that doing this skill on the ground is more challenging than how it is in the air, and this is because of the balance aspect: so many more of the stabilization muscles are working on the ground to help with balance. Then, when it transfers to off the ground, it will be a breeze!
~5 essential exercises to help you achieve your side balance~
There are lots of different stretches/exercises you can do for your side balance. These are 5
exercises that I find essential in making your side balance feel phenomenal! For these drills, make sure the legs, hips, and hamstrings are super warm! If you need any stretches to help you warm up, I have so many videos to help with that on my Vimeo page: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/functionalflexibility
Balancing on one leg opposite leg side, low: stand on one leg, and lift the other leg up to the side low. Allow that standing foot to be alive while keeping the rest of the body completely still. Practice holding this position for 10-20 seconds.
Leg lifts, leg bent: lifting the leg to the side, bent. I like doing this with bent leg, so you can focus on glute and hip engagement. Once the leg is straight, sometimes the quad will overcompensate and do all of the work.
Side balance on wall: this is great for understanding the correct body position for side balance. Important to not sit in the standing hip while doing this!
Standing side kicks: we all know, I love kicks! These are so great to do to help build the strength needed for side balance. Make sure both hips stay facing the front while doing the side kicks.
Attitude swings: right from ballet class, attitude swings are great for really getting the hip warm for side balance. Practice doing 16 attitude swings on each side.
~"But Rochelle, I need to see you do these drills"~
And you can! Head over to my Vimeo page (https://vimeo.com/ondemand/functionalflexibility )
and subscribe! I have a video of me showing and explaining all 5 of these drills!