“A Delicate Balance”


Our first balance challenge comes when we try to move from hands and knees to walking upright. While an essential skill, it doesn’t come easily, and we land on our behinds frequently trying to figure it out. After that we try running, usually before we are quite successful at stopping, and often fall forward when we try to stop.

Eventually balance on two feet becomes second nature, so we learn to balance on various devices. Bicycles challenge us to remain upright while moving our feet in circles. Roller skates demand that we align two sets of wheels and move only forward, while trying to avoid doing the splits. Ice skates further try our balancing patience trying to glide on two long metal pieces. We rush down ski slopes on two wooden boards. Then we walk over creeks on logs, balance on railroad tracks, and teeter on the tops of walls. We have achieved an amazing array of balancing skills with some patience and perseverance.

And then one day late in life we find that something has gone awry. A skill we took for granted–balancing–seems as challenging as it did years ago. We use handrails going down stairs, after wondering for years what they were for. We accept a hand on slippery surfaces. We begin to think about broken bones when we consider ice skating and roller skating. Our bravado about balancing seems to have evaporated.

Fortunately, as I wrote a few months ago, there are exercises such as balancing on one foot while brushing our teeth, that restore balance. While I wish I could take balance for granted as I did for so many years, I now concentrate on maintaining it. It’s a lot farther to the ground if I fall now!



26 thoughts on ““A Delicate Balance”

  1. We do a balance exercise as part of our fitness class: We stand on one foot while tracing the letters of the alphabet in the air with the other. (Air-writing?) It just confirms what I already knew, my strength and balance is much stronger on one side than the other. Guess that means I’ll have to work more on the weak side.


  2. As we get older we tend to ease off doing exercise. We think sore knees or feet means we need to rest them when its actually the other way around – it means we need to exercise more. Loss of balance can be a result of weaker muscles or problems within the inner ear. Best way to improve balance as you say is to do little things everyday to strengthen the legs and ankles, your example standing on one foot, walking lunges, heel drops using a step and a daily walk


  3. I had a lot of trouble learning to ride a bike, and wasn’t confident on the road until I was 9 years old. But I took to roller skates really quickly, and became adept with them on all surfaces. They were the type that strap over your shoes, called ‘Jacko-Skates’ in England. If you went to fast, the straps got loose, and the skates could fly off. They had rubber brakes on the toes, for when you had to stop fast.
    I only went ice-skating once, in a London rink. I was hopeless, and fell so badly that I never tried again. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.


      1. I did 😆 And it was only because someone brought home a paperback and I wanted to see what was in it. I was one of those strange babies who would have a room full of toys but want to play with a twig in the corner 😂


  4. In November and December, we enjoyed watching our granddaughter taking her first steps, learning to walk and then running. Getting up from the floor without support is what most of us forget and one fine day we find that we need support to get up. I found out that and for the past many months I make it point to get up without support. Initially I had to try many times 🙂


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