Fit Tip: Balance

Most of us take our ability to balance for granted. It was something we really had to concentrate on and learn when we were toddlers. It’s something elderly people wish they could get back. How many times have you heard someone (who hadn’t been drinking at the time) say, “I just lost my balance and fell.”?

My grandmother-in-law tells me about her falls every time I visit her. Of course, she’s about to celebrate her 104th Birthday and can still get around with a walker. I’d say her balance is better than most others her age.

One of my favorite BodyFlow (yoga/tai chi/pilates) tracks is balance and it seems to be the one people struggle with most. When we stand on one leg, we often feel wobbly. It takes several things working in synergy to find peace in a balance pose. I’ve not arrived by any means, but I’m better now than when I began.

Here are some things to try:

Solid ground: It’s much easier to balance on a firm surface as opposed to a soft one.

~ Eye focus: When attempting to balance, find a spot that’s not moving and focus on it.

Mental focus: The eye trick helps you get here. Another thing that helps is to think calm or positive thoughts. “I can do this. I’m a balanced person.”

Overcome fear: Don’t be afraid to fall. If you’re only picking your foot up a few inches off the ground to start, chances are the “fall” will simply be touching your foot down. We all have to build up to advanced balance poses.

Engage your core: If you’re only concentrating on the leg you’re standing on, you might not be engaging core postural muscles which can help stabilize you in a balance situation.

Practice: It takes time to build muscle control and strength. You may especially notice the ankles/wrists feel weak when you begin. It’s akin to being on rollerblades or ice-skates for the first time. Consistent practice improves control, strength, and flexibility.

Acceptance: Wherever you are today, accept it. But also accept that tomorrow you have to push a little further or you won’t see improvements. Lift the foot an inch higher. Tip your chest a little further forward. Be brave.

Start today and you’ll be walking circles around the wheelchair racers in your retirement home someday. I love the physical and mental challenges balance poses provide and I love it even more when I get stronger.

What tricks have you found that help you with your balance?