How you CAN Improve Balance

You Aren't just Born Un-Coordinated...oh wait, you ARE!  We ALL are...

In today's Guest Blog Post, Monika Patel DPT talks about Balance, about how we have to consciously make an effort to improve balance, and yes, how you CAN improve your relationship with gravity.

Balance is tough.

Just look at my 10 month old son.  He's got the bruises to prove it.  Gravity ALWAYS wins.

Your ability to balance is not just a natural born instinct.

Again, look at my son.  He stumbles and falls--usually gets up laughing, sometimes not so much, but learning to balance--to stand up straight, to walk, to "fly" in various arm balances, these are all a LOT of intentional, focused work.  

It took most of us almost a year to learn how to walk, it will take us until the end of our days to keep those systems primed and ready to keep us going.

Let's Read a little bit about Monika and how she explore connects balance, movement and they are all connected.  Then, let's sign up for the Balance workshop June 23rd so we can take the necessary steps to continue mastering Balance.

by Monika Patel DPT

As much as I admire and respect dance, it makes me self-conscious, leery, and uncomfortable.

Despite this seeming natural aversion, I recently summoned a mass of courage, ordered a leotard, and signed my 30-year-old self-up for an adult beginner ballet class. The weakest link was most certainly moi. Especially with the spins.

Other students could turn 360s in a straight line across the room, neatly like a graceful seam along silky fabric.

Follow my path, and you’d think I was a toddler attempting a word search.

Plus, my head reeled, and the room spun.

I had not consciously made an effort to test my balance in years. 

Despite my insecurity, I kept on with Tuesday night (self-induced) tipsiness, knowing it was good for me;

I have a theory that humans were designed to dance.

Anthropological studies show us that dance was inclusive of human existence since prehistoric times.

Dance was not an elected specialty, talent, hobby or skill,as we perceive it today.

It was something all people of all ages in a group consistently did to celebrate, connect, and, I would argue,

Stimulate visual and vestibular systems.

The vestibular system is the system of small loops in our inner ear responsible for balance and our sense of spatial orientation.

It stands to reason that to stimulate this loopy structure (see included image), one must move in non-linear patterns...so we must do more than just walk forwards.

Additionally, when we stick to static or forward movement (walking, sitting, running), the small rotational muscles of our core and hips forget how to function. Hence, we stymie the development of crucial elements of our balance

Current research also supports the powerful benefits of dance on improving balance and reducing fall risk.

In one study, people aged 60-91 were randomly assigned to either a 10-week tango class, or a walking program.

  • Those in the tango group, showed more improved scores on all outcome measures than the walking group,
  • These resulted in decreased fall risk and fear of falling.

Benefits of Conscious Movement to Improve Balance like Dance

  • decrease depression,
  • improve ability to perform activities of daily living, and 
  • even improve walking speed in special populations such as those affected by Parkinson’s, a stroke, and Multiple Sclerosis.
  • To help improve balance:

    I say, put ego aside and play a song that you can’t help but tap your feet to, and then add little more oomph.

    • Weave with your elbows.
    • Turn circles like your dog before bedtime.
    • Exaggerate the shy-guy head nod.
    • Pretend you are mixing concrete with your leg.
    • Think of your next yoga practice as choreography.

    Dance and dynamic movement doesn’t have to be graceful, powerful, calculated, practiced, or beautiful. It just needs to happen. A few minutes. An hour. With friends. Alone. Don’t worry about looking sexy, because never falling will become a true reality for all of us as we age should we continue to practice improving our balance.

    To learn more about how your body achieves balance and how yoga can help, sign up for our Balance workshop on June 23, 2018.

    (We promise we won’t make you dance, but you will get to practice yoga.)