Tag Archives: balance

Just for Grins – Riding backwards

This guy is really good at riding backwards. This is “backwards horse riding Jamaican style”.  “Yeh, Mon”

Video length: 52 seconds
Uploaded by  on Jan 22, 2010

 

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Exercises to improve balance Level 6

These are exercises that I am using to improve my balance. I practice several times a day. The goal of the exercises is to improve my overall body proprioception and balance, as well as strength in my legs. Balancing will also improve core body strength.

The exercises increase in difficulty as balance improves. Hold onto something if necessary to maintain balance. I have used holding onto a chair, touching a wall, holding onto a low hanging tree branch, touching my foot on a step, and holding a broom handle.

With my eyes closed I am still mostly working on Level 1 and 2, but raising my leg higher.  With my eyes open I am working on improving at Level 3 and 4 and adding in more time at Level 5 exercises.

I am ready to begin adding in some Level 6 exercises.

Level 6: Stand on a soft surface like a foam pillow or balance cushion with both feet starting with exercises from Level 1.

– Keep practicing and advancing in difficulty repeating all the levels till you are standing on one foot with your eyes closed and able to move your foot in all directions.

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Exercises to improve balance Level 5

These are exercises that I am using to improve my balance. I practice several times a day. The goal of the exercises is to improve my overall body proprioception and balance, as well as strength in my legs. Balancing will also improve core body strength.

The exercises increase in difficulty as balance improves. The levels are my interpretation of progressively difficult exercises based on my research. Hold onto something if necessary to maintain balance. I have used holding onto a chair, touching a wall, holding onto a low hanging tree branch, touching my foot on a step, and holding a broom handle.

I am still working on Level 4. I have tried Level 5A bending as far down as top of my cat’s scratching post. I could use the scratching post as a stability point. As I improve, then I will bend further down and farther out. I am also adding in some hopping, which hopefully will help me with my spring up to mount my horse. Hopping is also aerobic exercise. My hopping is currently rather pathetic.

Level 5A: Stand on both feet with eyes open on even flat surface, then lift one foot up.

– Bend forwards and sideways, eventually working up to bending to pick something up from the floor. Work up to reaching down in various directions as far as possible.

– Next try with your eyes closed.

Level 5B:

– Add tossing a ball or dribbling a basketball to add more dynamic motion while balancing on one leg.

* Please read my disclaimer.

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Exercises to improve balance Level 3-4

These are progressively difficult exercises that I am using to improve my balance. I practice several times a day for up to 30 seconds each time. The goal of the exercises is to improve my overall body proprioception and balance, as well as strength in my legs. Balancing will also improve core body strength.

About 2 weeks ago there was a sudden breakthrough with my balance and it has continued to improve. I have progressed from being unstable at Level 1 to working on Level 4.

The exercises increase in difficulty as balance improves. The levels are my interpretation of progressively difficult exercises based on my research. Hold onto something if necessary to maintain balance. I have used holding onto a chair, touching a wall, holding onto a low hanging tree branch, touching my foot on a step, and holding a broom handle.

Level 3: Stand on both feet with eyes open on even flat surface, then lift one foot up.

– Move the lifted foot to front and back crossing over your body.

– Swing your arms back and forth. Raise arms over head. Move arms behind your back.

– Next try with your eyes closed.

Level 4: Stand on both feet with eyes open on even flat surface, then lift one foot up.

– Move the lifted foot to front and back crossing over your body. Increase how far you can reach the foot in different directions. Try squatting down on the one leg to reach farther with your other foot. Rotate your body to left and right to reach sideways.

– Next try with your eyes closed.

* Please read my disclaimer.

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Exercises to improve balance Level 1-2

These are progressively difficult exercises that I am using to improve my balance. I practice several times a day for up to 30 seconds each time. The goal of the exercises is to improve my overall body proprioception and balance, as well as strength in my legs. Balancing will also improve core body strength.

The exercises increase in difficulty as balance improves. The levels are my interpretation of progressively difficult exercises based on my research. Hold onto something if necessary to maintain balance. I have used holding onto a chair, touching a wall, holding onto a low hanging tree branch, touching my foot on a step, and holding a broom handle.

Level 1: Stand with weight on both feet with eyes open on even flat surface.

Can you stand without wavering with your feet apart? With your feet close together? With one foot placed directly in front of the other foot?

– Try shifting your weight back and forth by leaning forwards, backwards and side to side and again find your center balance.

– Sway your body from your ankles.

– Next try with your eyes closed.

Level 2A: Stand on both feet with eyes open on even flat surface, then lift one foot up.

Can you stand for up to 30 seconds without wavering? If difficult, then just barely lift the foot up and feel the ground with tip of your toe.

– Try lifting the foot higher. I found that touching my toe lightly to a small step or against a wall helped because gave me more proprioception clues.

– As becomes easier, then hold the foot to the front, out to side, and behind.

– Next try with your eyes closed.

Level 2B: Moving exercises with eyes open on even flat surface

– Walk a line with one foot placed in front of the other forwards and backwards.

– Walk with legs crossing over to move sideways.

– Hop up and down on both legs about an inch or two high.

– Next try with your eyes closed.

* Please read my disclaimer.

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Improving balance

Increasing rider confidence

I used to have good balance, but discovered a couple of months ago that I was rather unstable trying to stand on one leg. I was even unstable standing on two legs with my eyes closed. Balancing is more difficult on my right leg. My right knee was hurt this past summer. I had not noticed how much stiffer and weak my right leg had become compared to my left leg. The poor balance is surely a factor in my lower confidence level for riding my horse.

I have been practicing balancing several times a day. It is easy to find times to put in a bit of practice on balancing, such as waiting in line at a store or standing at the sink brushing my teeth. The goal of the exercises is to improve my overall body proprioception and balance, as well as strength in my legs. Balancing also will increase core body strength.

Gently holding onto a low overhanging branch of a small tree gave me a 3-D dynamic aid with balancing, which was more helpful in improving my balance than just holding onto a chair or touching a wall. I also discovered that lightly touching my foot to something helped with practicing with my eyes closed because the contact gave me proprioceptive clues. I have also been using a balance ball.

In my next blog entries I will share balance exercises that I have found through researching. These are progressively difficult exercises for me. I have used these exercises to improve my balance. About one month into my practice my balance made a jump in improvement, as if my body started to remember how to balance again. The exercises are also improving my right knee stability. In addition to the balancing exercises I am continuing to work on my yoga stretching. There has been improvement in stretch of nearly an inch in my Hero Pose position. My right leg is still tighter than my left leg.

I welcome you to join with me in improving balance. Make sure to have fun while you practice balancing!

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Balance: Reducing falls

Our balance depends on three main sensory areas: the vestibular system, the proprioceptive system, and the visual system.

With age, and with certain neurologic conditions, one or more of these areas can become compromised. People can often compensate when one of them is damaged. But when two or more are impaired, people can be at a greatly increased risk of falling.

David J. Thurman M.D., M.P.H

Tin figurine of lady standing, balanced on white circus horse with one leg

I didn’t feel particularly unstable riding in my saddle on Twistur at a walk, but I had my eyes open and wasn’t standing on one leg.

Strength and flexibility

My difficulty balancing on one leg is partly due to my leg and foot strength being unable to hold me when I start to tip. I watched a yoga instructor doing the one leg pose of Warrior III. Her foot and body muscles were working on small corrections to maintain her balance.

An important component of maintaining good balance is strength and coordination in the lower extremities. This frequently declines as we get older. As a result, our ability to react quickly to a change in posture is diminished.

David J. Thurman, M.D., M.P.H is an author of guidelines on recognizing fall risk for the American Academy of Neurology (AAN).

Vision

Balance can improve by consciously adjusting the body’s position based on vision. Closing the eyes removes this method of balancing.

Proprioception

Proprioception is the ability to identify the body’s position in space through special sensory stimuli. The sobriety test of closing the eyes and touching the nose is a test of proprioception. Where is your hand? Where is your nose? There are special sensors in the joints, muscles, and tendons that detect changes in your body’s movement and position. There are reflexes that compensate by responding to pressure on the joints and muscles to maintain posture. A person standing upright begins to lean to one side and the muscles reflexively contract to maintain balance.

Vestibular function

Vestibular balance comes from the inner ear that can detect body positional tilt and movement. Your vestibular system works together with your eyes in the vestibulo-ocular reflex to help keep images properly centered on your retina. When the head turns one way, then the eyes turn the other way to hold the image steady. The vestibular system can affect posture via a reflexive pathway. For instance a perceived forward motion causes a sway forward to maintain the support base. Various medications and high blood pressure can cause damage to the inner ear. Age is the biggest risk factor for vestibular disorders. Sometimes the body gets improper signals. Vertigo results from a mismatch of vestibular, ocular, and proprioceptive inputs.

The body needs input from the eyes, the feet, and ears (including the vestibular system) to stay upright. All of these systems decline during the natural course of aging, which can lead to balance problems.

Yuri Agrawal, M.D., an otolaryngologist at Johns Hopkins Medicine

There are several different balance tests. I wish there was a test to help me determine my likelihood of falling off my horse. I don’t want to take the test of “Horse sees scary monster, spins and takes off test”. That probably would be a test that I’d fail.

What I need to improve

One thing I do know is that I need to keep my eyes open! I rely strongly on my visual system for my balance. Closing my eyes makes me much more unstable standing on one leg, but I can walk down a dark hallway at night without much difficulty. I can tell when I am starting to tip over and where my body parts are located. With practice I can improve strength in my feet, ankles and core muscles that should help with standing on one leg and also general balance.

The preponderance of evidence shows fairly convincingly that strength and balance training can reduce the rate of falls by up to about 50 percent.

Dr. Thurman

How to get better balance?

There are many different exercises to work on the various methods the body uses to balance. This is good news for improving balance for riding too. Improvements in balance progresses in increments and may take as long as 3 months to notice a change. Professor Tracey Howe, of Glasgow Caledonian University whose findings are published in The Cochrane Library says to improve balance you should exercise at least 3 times a week and “combine activities, such as carrying things while walking or dancing which involves using various parts of the body.”

References:
(1) Neurology Now (American Academy of Neurology) April/May 2011 Volume 7(2) p 32–33 by Shaw, Gina

(2): From “The New York Times” article “Staying on Balance, With the Help of Exercises” by John Hanc Published: 09/15/2010

Tests:
Romberg Test, Clinical Balance Function Test, Berg Balance Test, Tinetti, Fullerton Advanced, Spring Scale, Y Balance Test.

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Balance needs 2 out of 3 components

Can You Pass the Test? Dynamic Balance Test

Video by http://www.builtlean.com/

How did you do? I definitely need practice and am a bit wobbly. I didn’t feel particularly unstable riding in my saddle on Twistur at a walk, but I had my eyes open and wasn’t standing on one leg.

Dr. David Thurman, a neurologist for the American Academy of Neurology explains to maintain balance “there are several components of the nervous system, as well as motor or movement functions, that need to be intact.” Maintaining balance we need at least 2 of the 3 components: vision, proprioception and vestibular function. We also need the strength and flexibility to hold ourselves against gravity. “All of these,” Dr. Thurman said, “tend to degrade with age…” Unlike many effects of aging, balance can be improved. “The preponderance of evidence,” Dr. Thurman said, “shows fairly convincingly that strength and balance training can reduce the rate of falls by up to about 50 percent.” (1) This is good news for improving balance for riding too.

I used to have good balance. I have already made improvements in my balance in just the last couple of weeks with practice. I’m finding ways to practice balance during the day. While doing simple daily tasks, I’ll hold up a leg. A short practice multiple times a day is optimal for improving balance. I’ll lift the leg a bit and move it forward, back and to the side as I fill up the horse water or brush my teeth. Holding onto a small tree branch by one of the water buckets provides some stability while allowing more dynamic balancing than a solid object like a chair.

Footnote (1): From “The New York Times” article “Staying on Balance, With the Help of Exercises” by John Hanc Published: 09/15/2010

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DOMS: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

If you exercise beyond your abilities, then 24 to 72 hours later you may experience  ‘Delayed On-set Muscle Soreness‘ or ‘DOMS’. The pain and stiffness is likely the result of tiny muscle fiber tears. The body will recover and build up strength in rebuilding the muscles after a few days. Gentle massage and stretching can help ease the discomfort. Resting the muscles is a good option.

I learned the term ‘DOMS’ on a vacation trip to Canada when we hiked 3.5 miles from the parking lot of the hotel on Lake Louise B.C. to the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse. Coming back down the 3.5 miles my legs were turning into quivering jelly. I’m surprised we managed to do the hike. We most definitely overdid that day. Two days later we were hobbling around in agony.



View overlooking hotel on Lake Louise, B.C. from hiking back from Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse

Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse Hike: View overlooking Lake Louise, B.C. (Photo by IcieMeg)

Overdoing

Unfortunately I’m finding it is very easy to over use my muscles. Two weeks ago I made myself rather sore twice with DOMS. I slathered on Ultra Strength BenGay, used my heating pad and took Ibuprofen.

First overused my upper legs. Our ground is a mix of red clay and sand intermixed with sandstone. I was out in the yard noting more small sandstone rocks brought to the surface by wind and rain. I usually bend to pick these up. My bending over muscles are good from poop scooping chores. I decided to use deep knee bends because am needing to practice this exercise to build up the muscle strength to help me mount my horses from the ground. I managed about 15 deep knee bends while walking around the backyard picking up the stones. A couple of days later paid the price with pain and stiffness in my legs that made it painful to even walk.


Little girl trying to balance on a ball (Photo by Sharon Mollerus on Flickr)

Photo by Sharon Mollerus on Flickr (Creative Commons License)

My legs being sore didn’t prevent me from sitting. Another day tried sitting on a stability ball as my office chair for about 2 hours to work on my posture and balance. I had no idea that I was overdoing so badly because sitting on a balance ball is hard work. It didn’t feel like hard work, but my muscles were firing constantly to keep my balance. This resulted in very sore shoulders and stiff neck with a headache, as well as areas on my back and hips.

Being so sore, the main exercise for last week was only to spend a few moments during the day to stretch out my right knee and shin, as well as practicing balancing on one foot. From my prior post of “Yoga on a sheet” I had noted that my right knee and right shin to ankle and down over top of my foot is very stiff. I can’t think of why this part of my body became so stiff and why my left side isn’t stiff. I did injure my right knee this summer, so maybe that is the reason.

In upcoming posts I will discuss how to stretch out the shin muscles and about using a balance ball as a chair.

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Reach for the Sky

‘Lifeloveandhorses’ blog is about “optimizing health, happiness, and peace” for my horses and myself. Yoga is a good form of exercise to increase strength, stamina, balance and flexibility.

Upward Hand Pose

Urdhva = raised (or upward)
Hasta = hand
Asana – pose
Pronounced: (oord-vah hahs-TAHS-anna)

Like most asanas, the principles of movement in Urdhva Hastasana break into three parts: entering the pose, being in the pose, and exiting the pose. Whether you are practicing it individually or as part of a flow series, the pose should be executed with these principles in mind.
– Yogajournal.com

My basic understanding of the pose:

  • Begin in Mountain Pose – standing in neutral spine & pelvis.
  • Inhale and stretch your arms over your head.
  • When you are ready to exit the pose, slowly exhale and bring the arms down.
  • End in Mountain Pose.

The single biggest gift you can give your horse is becoming “live weight,”, whether on the ground or in the saddle. A horse can feel the difference if you’re braced against him or moving with him. When you learn to re-balance your body while remaining upright over your feet with your joints moving freely and without clamping on the horse, you can truly be “in sync” with his motion.

– Peggy Cummings

Peggy Cummings in her book “Connect with Your Horse from the Ground Up” gives examples of slumping vs arching. This is a good video of a woman demonstrating proper sitting / standing in pelvic neutral vs slumping or arching, as well as showing the structure of how the pelvis connects into the spinal column and legs.

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