Loss of balance continues to be one of the three biggest challenges I face [along with anxiety and freezing]. In the past few months I have placed much more emphasis on balance exercises and it is paying off.
Loss of balance occurs when the mind and body are in a chronic state of stress and fear for an extended period of time. This ongoing fight or flight state results in the continual overproduction of stress hormones and neurotransmitters, particularly adrenaline and cortisol, and the corresponding underproduction [or non-production] of the tranquility-inducing, feel-good, muscle-control neurotransmitters, especially dopamine and serotonin.
Because of this chemical imbalance, communication between the three body-balance detection centers in the body [the soles of the feet, the eyes and the inner ear] and the brain is disrupted. They are no longer able to inform the brain that the body is out of balance. And more importantly, the muscle control centers of the brain lose the ability to send messages to the back and leg muscles so that they can make the appropriate adjustments to ensure proper balance.
In order to correct this condition long-term, I do several things:
- Get my mind and body out of the stress and fear induced fight or flight state, so that my body can return to homeostasis [which it naturally wants to], by restoring the proper neurotransmitter and hormone production levels [see my last post on overcoming anxiety].
- Take the same short-term ‘reset’ approach to correcting this condition as I have been using to correct my shuffle-walking condition. This involves instructing myself verbally [out loud] to do the following: keep my back straight, keep my head up and eyes up, keep my shoulders square and keep my feet shoulder width apart [the fundamentals of good balance]. I will also instruct myself to do the same thing I do when I reset to begin walking: relax my arms and jaw, take a big step, and lunge forward while counting steps.
- Strengthen the core and leg muscles with pushups, stomach crunches, squats, lunges, wall sits and horse stance exercises.
- Practice Qigong [my balance is fine when I am practicing Qigong].
- Practice balance exercises: (i) stand on one foot, then alternate (ii) stand with eyes closed, feet shoulder width apart (iii) stand with feet together, eyes open (iv) cross one foot in front of the other, then reach down and touch the floor keeping the legs straight, then switch feet (v) walk in a staight line, heal to toe
- I also recommend yoga. With its emphasis on stretching, balance and strengthening, yoga is an excellent practice.
I have definitely noticed an improvement in my balance since putting a renewed emphasis on balance exercises, especially when I am in a tranquil state of mind.
Wishing you an awesome day!