Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Watch Your Balance

Until this article popped up in the New York Times, I never gave much consideration to the balance aspect of falling down. Usual scenario is to trip over some object or have something or someone accidentally knock you over. And then, age and bone mass kick in determining whether or not bones break or less critical forms of injury result. I’m a great believer in plenty of activity including weight bearing exercise either with real iron or as a consequence of hauling a backpack full of supplies hiking or scrambling in the mountains. Therefore, I figure I’m preventing the loss of bone density or at least slowing it down, so I’m less likely to suffer fractures or serious injury from minor falls. While aware of the factors contributing to a good sense of balance, I never contemplated the gradual deterioration of each function and the possibility of basically losing my balance for no apparent reason – not the best situation when it’s steep enough to require the use of hands to summit a peak. Also, I’m pretty positive all the walking, running, hiking and climbing must have upset those little proprioceptors on the bottom of my feet causing them to react a mite slower or simply get fed up with all the work.
As soon as I finished reading, the obvious next step was to try the one legged balance assessment and slot myself into a category. Phew! Can’t you just anticipate the onset of stress and the threat of failure having to submit to a test? Didn’t ace it, but passed with seconds to spare. The suggested exercises are easy enough to fit into a yoga routine or one legged stands could be performed in a check-out line. Doing the training is fairly quick and simple, besides which you never know when you may have to walk a straight line.

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