Meeting the ground quickly usually isn’t fun. Here are some tips for staying balanced as you walk.
Tip 1: Let your head balance on top of your spine
Do you know how much your head weighs? Roughly 10 pounds! If your head isn’t balanced on top of your spine, that weight can throw you off balance. Tense muscles tend to pull our head down and we end up working harder to hold it up. Think of allowing the muscles at the back of your neck to soften so your head can lift up away from your shoulders. If you notice that your chin doesn’t jut out, you’re on the right track!
Tip 2: Use soft eyes
Try not to look down at your feet as you walk. When we look down where our feet are, most of us have a tendency to pull our head forward and down. (See Tip 1!) Instead, think of softening your eyes so you can take in the big picture around you and notice if there’s any uneven ground up ahead. Expanding our field of vision with soft eyes helps with balance, too, whereas tightening eyes and focusing on one spot usually doesn’t help.
Tip 3: Let your arms move
Fear of falling is one of our most basic fears, and when we’re afraid, we tense. It’s a natural reaction that can help when it’s fight or flight to get out of a dangerous situation, but tensing the torso and the arms are not helpful for balanced walking. Next time you go out for a walk, pay attention to what you do with your arms. Do you hold them tightly to your body? Do you pull them up? Allowing them to move actually makes your muscle tone more adaptable so you’ll be more steady-footed and confident.
Tip 4: Be like a Japanese skyscraper
Skyscrapers in Japan are built to sway during earthquakes. If they didn’t, they’d fall! Same with us. Although our fight/flight reaction tenses up muscles when we feel anxious, tensed muscles predispose us to falls. Pause and ask yourself if you are holding your body in a fixed posture. Any posture we hold is not a good posture. But just by noticing where we are holding we begin to free up our muscles. Doing regular activity that helps you become aware of overly tensed muscles can help to free up your movement. (The Mindful Movement and Elasticity classes are a great way to build appropriate muscle tone and release excessively tense muscles.)
Tip 5: Pause
Life can seem a mad rush and it might seem like you’re always running to catch up. One thing I love about Alexander Technique is it fits into my day! Try out a ‘mini-pause’ of just a few seconds to come back to yourself and reset. This gives you an opportunity to rebalance, find ease and then carry on refreshed without all the baggage (tension you’re carrying around from what you’ve been running around doing). A pause can make all the difference between you remaining happily upright and meeting the ground quicker than you’d like.