Johnny Cash Sang It Well, “I Walk the Line.”
For some of us, like myself, our balance and coordination is something we take for granted. Not saying that I’m the most coordinated person or the most graceful—I’m so not, and those of you who know me personally can testify to that—in fact, I trip over my own feet on a regular basis especially when I get tired. And once when I was in college, I was walking along a raised curb alongside a road, pretending that on my right was a boiling lake of lava—I know, kinda goofy—so I really didn’t want to step off the curb. I’ve seen other people do this, and if they lose their balance, they just step off. Did I do that? Hell no! I stopped, waving my arms in the air like I was on a tightrope hundreds of feet off the ground, and then fell to the ground, splat! I took it all in stride, though, and thought it was kinda funny that I had “tricked” my mind into pretending that scenario.
But all pretending and being silly aside, balance and coordination is something we all could use more of. Even professional athletes work on their balance during the offseason so they can walk that tightrope along the sideline and score a touchdown! Most professional athletes are “professional” because they have exceptional coordination and balance. The rest of us simply have to work on what we have.
- The first tip I can give is to do some yoga. A friend of mine at church teaches yoga, and sometimes he will just stand in the middle of the room holding one leg up—paralell to the floor! I have tried, and although I’m not as flexible as him, I can’t even stand on one foot for more than like 30 seconds much less with my leg 3 feet off the ground! But my friend encourages me and says it just takes time to get to where I can do that.
- Walk a tightrope. I saw a woman yesterday trying to walk on a ratcheting strap between two trees in her front yard. It was one of those straps that you use to secure things in the back of a truck. It was only a couple of feet off the ground, but she was doing it! The ABC show Modern Family has an episode in which Phil and his son Luke are trying to do that same thing. And even if your balance isn’t good or really bad, like mine, you can walk long the stripes in a parking lot or on a curb. The possibilities are endless.
- The third way I can recommend to improve your balance is to use a Wii video game console. There’s whole section on some of the discs for balance. One of my faves is the bird that flies around the ocean trying to land on certain platforms, adding more time and points to the score. Other games that are equally fun are the tightrope walk, the skijump and even the skateboard game. My son can whip my butt on all those, but we have a good time, anyway.
- Another, less expensive, way to improve your balance is to simply practice standing on one foot. We have a full-length mirror in the bedroom, so I usually stand in front of it when standing on one foot. I can see the muscles in my legs make slight corrections and twitches while I feel the muscles working to keep my upright. If you get bored with that, you can always add a new element and try to raise yourself up onto your tiptoes. My friend’s daughter is a professional ballerina, and she has inspired me to try this.
- The Bosu Ball is a great way to improve balance. In fact, after my hip surgeries, my physical therapist put me in between the two parallel bars and told me to stand on one foot on the Bosu ball without touching the bars. And when I got good enough doing this, she had me bend my knee slightly! Talk about a challenge! That both helped my balance and helped my muscles recover and regain strength! Thanks Bren!
There’s five ways to improve your balance, and I hope you find them helpful. Some of them are easier (and less expensive) do to than others, but I have tried to accessible ways which everyone can do at all levels of physical fitness. Have fun, and NEVER GIVE UP IMPROVING!