Walking is control over falling. As toddlers learn to walk, they gain better control over falling down. They learn to co-ordinate different muscle groups, firing up neural pathways in the brain for muscle memory. When they learn to pick up their feet instead of shuffling, they gain momentum, taking bigger strides in life. Eventually, learning to run by picking up their feet faster.
Your body has a ‘use it or lose it’ factor. As you age, your lifestyle changes, maybe forcing you to sit for longer periods of time. This forced sitting can ‘switch off’ neural pathways. Now, you don’t walk as often so when you do walk, you don’t pick up your feet properly. The muscles in your butt aren’t used to working to engage the leg muscles. Falling may become more frequent.
Having great balance allows you to have better awareness of your body in space. This awareness can help to prevent injuries, allowing you to react quicker to your environment.
Tips for better body balance:
– Practice standing correctly – stand with your feet inside hip width apart, feel parallel. Feel your weight evenly distributed between the balls and the heels. When you find your sweet spot, your body should feel light and weightless.
– Practice walking heal to toe to activate your whole foot.
– Do cross crawl exercises – pick up your left knee and touch it with your right hand and then swop knees and hands. This crossing action helps to activate both sides of your brain. The contralateral movement builds better balance. How awkward does it feel if you walk moving the arm and leg on the same side?
– Practice balancing on one leg. Wave your arms around while doing this. Bend down to pick something up off the floor while only standing on one foot.
– Do lunges and squats. These help to strengthen the muscles used for walking and balance.