“Off Balance”

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As I aged, I have noticed a decline in my ability to balance. Apparently this is a natural occurrence leading  to many falls in older people. So working to improve my balance requires effort. Lately I have incorporated a tip I learned from the New York Times 30 Day Wellness Challenge which has been running this month. It suggests standing on one foot for half of the time while brushing my teeth, then standing on the other foot for the other half. I use an electric toothbrush which beeps in 30 second intervals, so it is easy to measure my time on each foot. The thing beeps four times, allowing me one full minute of balancing on each foot. In a short time my balance has markedly improved. But partly it is because I remembered a tip I learned as a kid.

A train track belonging to a spur line of the railroad ran below our property. Because the train ran only twice a day, the tracks were empty most of the time. My brother and I spent time trying to see who could stay balanced walking on the rails the longest. Our distances improved after our father came along and taught us his method. “Never look at your feet. Always look at a point down the track and trust that your feet will move along the rail.” As I brush my teeth, I look across into the next room and balance for a longer time than if I look down.

But although the tip applied to balancing on the rail, it seems a good thing to remember in lots of situations. I think it would be helpful advice for cellphone users who are always bumping into me while they are looking down!

20 thoughts on ““Off Balance”

  1. When we were kids and we didn’t have that concrete bridge yet back in the province, we would cross the river every day through a wooden bridge about six or seven inches wide. Those were fun days.

  2. I was never much good at balancing on rails, or narrow ledges. But these days, I don’t notice much difference in my balance. Not yet, anyway. 🙂 I will remember your tooth-brushing tip though.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. My doctor was impressed at my checkup last Monday by my ability to stand on one foot. He said many people my age can’t. Balance leaves slowly, and it took a while to notice its decline for me.

  3. Oh don’t. Walking into things is one of my top ten skills, alongside saving food in my pullover and losing my glasses. The phone is Part Of the problem, distracting wretch!

      1. When I first travelled on the train, well when I was old enough to recall it, I remember being fascinated by the station cafe where the tea spoon was fixed to the counter top by a chain similar to the ones the banks used for their pens. Maybe I should have something similar in each room for my specs.

  4. Thanks for sharing; I’ll try the one-leg trick tonight. The reasoning behind it echoes a driving tip I got from my husband – a class 1 advanced driver with the police for many years.
    I only have to adjust my fan heater or look at the car radio to veer off course, but if you look well ahead along the road in front (which I should be doing anyway…) your brain automatically directs your hands to steer the correct path. (I think I need to practice a bit more.)
    Back on the subject of teeth cleaning… I read recently that to encourage your brain to stay active and develop new connections, you should try doing everyday things slightly differently (such as cleaning your teeth with the other hand… or crossing your legs the opposite way – which, again, I shouldn’t be doing anyway according to my husband’s physiotherapist).

    1. I’ve heard that don’t cross your legs thing too. Afraid it’s many years too late. If I started doing too many things in a slightly different way I might forget what I was doing all together!

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