PILATES AND BALANCE
How does balance affect you in your daily life. How can you improve your balance and have a bounce in your step.
As we get older we begin to lose out balance, although I have taught young people with low stability and older persons with amazing balance. There are now courses specifically for strengthening stability for older people, as it is so important to keep up a level of balance so that falls do not occur. Keeping supple and strong allows you to move in a fluid, easy way with spring in your step, like a cat.
So it is noticable when this cat-like movement pattern begins to disappear with age or after an accident etc and unless you start purposely making an effort in the opposite direction you will start protecting yourself with slower movements and the spring and bounce and agility will decline. It is best to catch things before you have even started to consider the possibility of this occuring but if not whenever you start will still bring benefits.
Please note: certain problems like foot injuries, ear balance issues and other physical problems will slow-down or inhibit changes in balance levels. Please check with your MD if you are unsure.
The main thing is - you have to start training by taking time to balance the body. I generally teach balance for two minutes in every class as I feel it is part of a full body workout.
This is what I teach but there are many other ways of balancing your body.
STANDING ON ONE FOOT WITH EYES CLOSED
1. Firstly, as a beginner you will want to start by standing near a wall, table, shelf to place a hand on. Over time you will be able to take your hand away for longer and then may be able to balance freely without holding on to anything. But for some people this may not happen. Balancing on one foot with your eyes closed is pretty difficult.
2. Take one foot off the floor and place it against the other legs' lower calf. This is very helpful.(please make sure there is nothing near you that you could step on or trip over).
3. Drop your gaze down a little and close your eyes.
4. Take your hand away from what it is holding on to and balance. If you wobble too much and feel you are going to fall, then place your hand back onto something solid or put your foot back down. Then try again.
Time yourself for a minute on each foot. You can build up to a minute if that is too long at the beginning.
Strength is important, throughout the whole body but most importantly the core (abdominals, gluts, inner thighs, pelvic floor) and the whole foot/ankle area. The more you balance the more you will build up the feet and ankle muscles.
Calm disposition. If you immediately try and balance without first bringing a relaxed attitude and gentle attention to your body you will probably wobble and then never get your composure. So take a few moments to prepare before starting.
Trust. Believing in and trusting yourself and your surroundings is so important. Try not to immediately judge yourself negatively and give up. Notice when that has happened and send it off somewhere else. You do not need that self-doubt.
Three times a week. Try and balance for a minute on each foot three times a week. So that is only six minutes out of a seven day week!
After a while you will notice changes. Strength in your feet, longer balance time with eyes closed or foot off the ground. And most importantly fit in some exercise every week, so that your whole body gets strong, supple and cat-like. I cannot recommend Pilates enough as a great all round form of exercise for the body.