The Downward Cycle of “Safety”
As the decades pass, we accumulate habits, incur injuries, undergo surgeries and, of course, experience changes from aging. This means as we get older, we tend to be less nimble, experience diminished balance and become more prone to falling.
Understandably, we begin avoiding activities that don’t feel as safe or comfortable as they once did. But as our movement repertoire narrows, our physical adeptness declines. It’s a downward cycle that leads to feeling even less sure of our balance.
Unfortunately, this cycle of staying safe can put us at greater risk of falling since we’re less able to respond to and recover from balance challenges. When we don’t trust our body or the surface we’re on, we feel insecure both consciously and unconsciously. Our system’s number one priority is self-preservation. So when it’s over-occupied with maintaining stability, we have extra tension in our muscles and inhibit our breathing. This vigilance also internally erodes our energy, attention and confidence.
Everyone Can Improve Their Balance
Fortunately, balance can be improved at any age. While there’s no magic pill to prevent falls, there’s a lot we can do to reduce our risk of falling and of injury.
Feldenkrais® lessons enliven our kinesthetic sense and increase suppleness so we can make the necessary balance corrections when we encounter a surprise. The lessons also helps us build a friendlier relationship with the ground, decreasing our fear of falling. And if we do fall, we can do it with a bit more skill and grace, minimizing injury. When we feel the ground is there for us and we’re safe, we begin a positive cycle toward greater ability, choice and ease.
The Paradox of Learning to Fall to Prevent Falls
I recently read about this wonderful program in the Netherlands. Unlike most “fall prevention” courses, this program teaches seniors how to fall!—a rather Feldenkrais®-like approach. In the process, “…the students appeared to forget about their age.”
Learning how to fall and get back up safely are important skills. In Awareness Through MovementTM lessons, we go slowly and stay within each person’s range of comfort and safety. The goal isn’t to accomplish a particular movement but to explore how we move (as well as think, feel and act). For instance, when you sit in a chair, do you fall into it or land softly? When you stand up, do you hold your breath and use effort, or do you time and coordinate your whole self to come up easily?
Ready to Improve Your Balance & Mobility?
Whether you’re afraid of falling or are simply interested in tuning up your balance and mobility, I invite you to join my Better, More Reliable Balance class in March.
Come have fun rolling, moving and transitioning to and from the floor with greater ease—and enjoy the improvements in your balance. Who knows, maybe you’ll be like the Dutch students and forget your age!