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Is it true you can always find a way to improve your balance?

April 18, 2013

The last week has been challenging for me as a teacher.  Especially when I pride myself on how the seniors who come to class show improvements and tell me how much classes have helped them.

Keep in mind that most of my work has been done with group classes, and now the owner of a local home care service has handed me a mission of some doing some one-on-one with a few people who really need some help.

These three folks I have been paired will be a  real good test for me.

All are in their 70’s and have some specific  problems which are normally dealt with via physical therapy or some other traditional “medical” professional.

So here I am as a movement guy, a balance guy and with my bagful of intuition, common sense a style of teaching movement that is made up in my head as I go.

Names of these three will be changed for privacy, legal and better story telling as this post plays out.

1) We have Sue, in her mid 70’s,  who had been a runner, race walker,  and overall very athletic for her whole life.  A few years back she lost feeling in her right glut. It just stopped functioning so to speak.  She lost strength, balance and trust in her capabilities due to this injury.  She walks now with a major “hitch in her giddy up” and. well, is just scared to death of falling as she has no faith that her right leg will support her.

To date, months of physical therapy has not helped her.  She was just told at the end of her insurance coverage: “you just need to keep exercising” and was given no real hope.

I worked with her one session so far and showed her a few ideas for building some connection to her leg, and for slowly proving to or showing herself that she has more use of the leg than she thinks.   She was seeing some simple things like being able to balance and so some slight toe taps, and some Chi walking better than she thought she could by end of session 1.  Next week we will see how it went and how the second session goes.

2) Betty and her Husband Jack.  These two are quite a riot to see in action.  Both are in their mid 70’s.

Betty had a hip replacement, some adult onset spina bifida, a bad knee and a hip that is badly out of alignment and jutted.

Jack suffers some neurological problems as a result of a tire iron induced trauma from a mugging 9 years ago.  He was left with numbness in both calves, balance issues and a few other related problems.  He is also very hard of hearing and no real mind/body awareness.

I worked a bit with Betty at a  training last week after which she said she “got it” and found the walking and balance exercises to be very clear and something she could work on.  Today she mentioned that she walked for her 95 year old mom to show her the improvement she has made.  Her mom commented with “look at you go” as she was  able to walk without a need of balance touch support.

Today Jack came in for my first time with him.  He shuffle walked in, and visually was off balance the whole first hour. We went over some exercises, and his lack of connection to how he moves was evident.

His deafness and overall communication and interaction made it very hard to show him and explain what I was asking him to do.  I had to be very creative in my approach.  for example, finding objects at the church hall to use to illustrate physical movement, an old tv screen to use as a mirror, hand signals and so on.  My mind was whirring away to find a way to break through,

However by the end of the session, another 1/2 hour, he was moving better through the walking, toe taps and toe – heel raises.  He did a few things that Betty did not think he was capable of.

And to top it off, as he left, on the way to his truck was practicing his heel toe walk and mentioned he was looking forward to coming back next week.

So far, I look at this as a successful assignment.  All three saw potential for improvement, and have already realized some with just a short time of working with the exercises.

I say, how about that!

One Comment
  1. Cathy Laws permalink

    it’s always a good feeling to help others through some sort natural process, as a social worker i try to recommend exercise to the ones who are not disabled or incapable of the suggestions. that and meditation seem to work for those who are willing to invest the time in feeling better!


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