Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Use It or Lose It

Years ago, I noticed I had the tendency to walk into things; and I’m not just talking about the occasional table or whatever I may be walking around. I seemed to lightly brush or whack one or the other shoulder nearly every time I went through a doorway. When walking with others, I was apt to run into whoever I was walking with, usually more than once. Both of these phenomena grew worse as the years rolled by. After many bruised legs, shoulders and more than a few stepped on toes, I serendipitously came across articles relating to balance. Frankly, I hadn’t really thought about how balance, or lack thereof, may be the cause of my failure to walk through a door like a normal person, or why I had to continuously excuse myself for running into friends and loved ones. I just figured I wasn’t paying close enough attention while dashing this way and that. Though I attributed the walking into people as leaning in and paying attention to, I had to really concentrate to not walk into them.

We all know our physical abilities diminish unless we are using our bodies in a variety of ways. Use it or lose it, as they say. While I had been lifting weights for years, and knew the importance of changing my routine regularly, muscle strength was not enough to create a more stable body. I needed to include balance exercises. While there are many things that come into play affecting balance, one of the best things you can do is to practice; and guess what? It’s never too late.

In order to take control of my wandering body, I started simply. Whenever brushing my teeth, I would stand on one foot and suck in my gut (very important as these core muscles give you support). When I switched from top to bottom teeth, I would switch what foot I was standing on. Initially, I was surprised out how out of balance I was. But soon I was spitting in the sink while bending at the waist, and standing on one foot, all without falling over.

Over the years, I have added various balance exercises to my workouts. They not only increase the difficulty of whatever I am doing, they are fun. For example: when doing bicep curls while standing on one leg, it turns an arm exercise into a leg workout at the same time. And when I think the balance exercise has become easy, I close my eyes. It’s like starting all over again. Why is that fun? You can’t help but laugh at yourself while trying to maintain balance.

We hear about the increased occurrence of falling injuries as bodies age. Now, I have a better understanding of why it happens. Adding the practice of balance to my life has given me a better chance of not falling; thus, I have a better chance of not injuring myself. I seldom run into doorjambs these days. And while I may run into people from time to time when walking with them, I am stepping on fewer toes.

Note: Search balance exercises on the Internet, and you will find many ways to work balance into your life.

Surprise face photo courtesy of louiscrusoe