Have you started telling yourself “My balance isn’t what it used to be”? Change your perception and outcomes with Part 2 of my 6 simple strategies.
4. Rigid shoes
As the old saying goes, “we aren’t born wearing shoes” so why do we end up imprisoning those 26 moving bones in shoes that prevent mobility? Walking barefoot is coming back into fashion. Imagine if we were saying “brushing your teeth is back in fashion.” Would that ever happen?
Your feet have become so institutionalised that they don’t even know how to walk without a nursemaid under them—a big solid matronly type!
Don’t for one second jump to the conclusion that I’m telling you to leap out of your expensive orthotics and $200 runners to embrace Mother Earth because that would be like spending a summer’s day in Perth without protection because vitamin D is good for you. (and Vibram barefoot shoe company have been in big trouble for saying exactly that)
Your feet contain some of the most sensitive and intricate adaptive balance technology known to science. But after years of bondage these abilities have been compacted together like an elephant chained to a stake. Take it in stages…10 minutes barefoot at a time and build from there. If you get any kind of pain reduce your barefoot time. If it’s just not working then your feet may not be capable of natural walking any more.
It would be best to employ the services of a Podiatrist who is trained in Foot Mobilisation Technique (FMT), a rare but miraculous manipulative therapy that reorganises your feet and aims to get you out of orthotics. Yes, out of orthotics. Yes, I know a Podiatrist who works to get you out of orthotics.
Solution to rigid feet: walk barefoot more often.
5. Slumping in Chairs
Posture (your long-term structural development) develops over years of sedentary slumping in chairs, couches, car seats and office chairs and is to blame for the ability to sustain the weight of the head (with the added force of load *doubling every inch*) forward, something you don’t see a healthy toddler attempt.
Make a running tally today of the amount of time you spend not upright. Pretty much every time you sit down for longer than 15 minutes you’ll find that the fatigue sets in and your body ends up in a C curve slump…that is of course if you started out on a supportive chair. If you sat down in an easy chair, a couch or car seat you’re guaranteed to be in a rounded posture as your pelvis rolls backward by default thereby collapsing the spinal curves.
Learning the skill of sitting upright without effort is the only way to stop this life-long habit of positioning the spine in a rounded load bearing curve. In a structural sense, this postural shape shortens the psoas and hamstring muscles over time but more importantly, the very action of trying to stand up from a slump diverts effort into the front of the thighs (often with an audible grunt) to push down into the feet(those poor feet) and upward into the neck and shoulders(that poor neck!) to access enough leverage for the lift.
All of this amounts to a consistent conditioning of your body for imbalance. How many hours of corrective stretching and exercise is needed per hour of sedentary slumping? Now there’s a study in futility…that I’m sure some PhD has quantified.
Solution to slumping in chairs: learn to sit upright without tension(therefore conditioning your spine for length and balance)
6. Bending Down & Squatting
As the balance starts to come into question we bend down less for fear of overbalancing.
We’ve already recommended getting on the floor more often and bending to get dressed rather than leaning against a wall, but these are only two relatively short-lived activities in any one day. Then we add up all of the bends and reaches that accumulate during the day in the bedroom(making the bed, tidying the drawers, getting in and out of bed), bathroom(sitting on the throne, bending over the sink, washing in the shower), kitchen(the dishwasher, fridge, oven, drawers, cupboards), garden(weeding, shovelling, sweeping, mowing…) the list goes on forever.
There are a heck a lot of bends in one day and if you start to observe where you are bending your body most often, it will unlikely be from the hip sockets(thus engaging glutes/hamstrings).
If you’re even more honest with yourself you’ll notice how many times you make short cuts in the everyday bends such as delegating the sweeping, vacuuming and furniture shifting or raising the height of the kitchen benches, storing everything in eye level cupboards and the worst one of all, popping some nurofen/panadol before mowing the lawn! (or playing that weekly game of social tennis)
This simply means, whichever parts of your body you’re using the most will strengthen the most…and either get tighter(and less responsive) or stretched/strengthened and conditioned for responsiveness.
Solution to bending/squatting for better balance: learn to use the fulcrum of your body(at the hip joints) for maximum use of your hamstrings, glutes and by default…the core.