Balance Training

Tuning In

I had the privilege earlier this month of meeting students and staff at the Colorado Center for the Blind and going along as an observer on a cane travel excursion. Steve, the instructor, and the two students led the way – with their keen perception and their canes – on a trip through downtown Littleton to find donuts and bagels at a shopping center down the road. Throughout the journey, Steve asked the students questions about the surroundings and talked…

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Being in Motion

Over Christmas I met my new grandniece who, at the age of one month, loves to dance. Any kind of rhythmic motion soothes and enthralls her. Whether we grooved to Stevie Wonder or waltzed to Frank Sinatra, her cries would cease, her muscles relax, and her eyes brightly turn to the swirling landscape around her. While others in the family were curious to discover the object of little Emma’s gaze, my wonder was with the process of how she responded…

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Balance in Caregiving

As Thanksgiving fast approaches, images of past family holidays arise in my mind’s eye, including the memory of the last Thanksgiving with my mother. I vividly see her at age 91 watching her beloved Broncos and playing (and winning) word games between turkey and pumpkin pie. I had the gift of caring for my mother in the last years of her life, and while the unexpected role of parental caregiver at times proved daunting, I gratefully discovered I had a…

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Fall Prevention Awareness Day

Fall arrived in Colorado today with a curious mix of summer sunshine and a chill wind from the west announcing the inevitable change of seasons. The day also marks Fall Prevention Awareness Day (and the beginning of Fall Prevention Awareness Week); not the prevention of shorter days and cooler temperatures, but a reminder that although the fall season is unavoidable, taking a fall is not. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) started the observance a decade ago to help people understand that…

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Fall Prevention: Facts & Tips

At a fall prevention event I attended last week, I was surprised to learn that falls are the number one call for help to the Arvada Fire and EMS Rescue in Jefferson County, Colorado. That is, the fire department assists people who have fallen more often than it responds to fires or any other emergency requiring medical services. The Fall Prevention Fair and Cookout was put on by TRIAD, an organization in Jefferson County that helps seniors stay safe in…

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Fear and Falling

Olympic gold medalist Pekabo Street, 1998 winner of the downhill in Nagano, once told a reporter, “Fear is the number one enemy when you’re racing; when you’re afraid your center of balance is back, which is very detrimental to your health.” Detrimental, indeed. Scientific studies have found that, along with increasing the risk of falling and serious injury, fear of falling in daily life leads to activity restriction, a loss of independence, reduced quality of life, and an increased chance of…

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Freedom

“I had no idea what I was getting into when I signed up for class!” Karen, a participant in a recent Minding Your Balance™ class, went on to say that she thought the training would involve things like standing on one leg and core strengthening exercises — a reasonable expectation given that we tend to think of balance as a strictly physical endeavor. While balance obviously is physical (and standing on one leg does take place in classes), balance involves more…

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Underfoot

A good friend who volunteers at the local animal shelter stumbled over a hose during cleanup of the dog kennels and took a bad fall. She was carrying a big bucket filled with cleaning solution at the time, and while her view of the floor wasn’t obscured she just didn’t notice the hose lying across her path. My friend, the bucket and all its liquid contents went flying. Fortunately, she came away from the fall with only minor bruises and soggy clothes. Sometimes when we…

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The Wonder of Awareness

A new student in Monday night’s Minding Your Balance class experienced subtle changes in her balance during the centering exercise when she shifted her attention in different directions. The exercise, which teaches students how to find center-of-balance, brings to light the way in which attentional focus leads movement. Sometimes people notice a significant drift of their body in the direction of their attention, for example, leaning back when thinking back, or tilting sideways when moving attention to the side. On the other…

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Mobile or Stable?

In Ki-Aikido, we use a firm push on the torso to check balance stability as a form of “no-tech biofeedback” in learning to how to center.  If I place my attention at my center-of-balance (in the gut a few inches below the belly button) I remain stable without having to work at it; if I shift my attention to, say the top of my head, I immediately wobble on my feet when my partner pushes on me. At last weekend’s Minding Your Balance workshop at Denver Ki-Aikido,…

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