I'm just running along, lost in my thoughts or my music, when all of a sudden my feet go out from under me. Maybe it's black ice or maybe a crack in the sidewalk. One time it was a sprinkler head, buried in the grass. Sometimes it's just been my feet.
Before I hit the ground, there's that moment when time stands still. Where the thought "oh, sh*t, this is going to hurt" crosses my mind.
Then crash! I land on my back, my knees, my face. Most of the time, when I have fallen, I haven't gotten hurt badly. Once after a particularly dramatic spill, a guy in a car stopped and asked if I was ok. Ashamed, I just waved him away. There was also that incident when I tripped over the curb on the way into Target and fell face first into the bike rack. That stunt bought me an ambulance ride to the ER, a concussion, and 5 stitches in my eyelid.
This winter, I've had a few close calls with black ice but each time I was able to stay upright. I was shocked every time. Was it luck? Or was it some kind of skill? Or am I becoming more nimble in my old age?
Kinesthetic awareness is the technical term for awareness of your body in space. Some people are born with it. Some of us, ahem, have to work a little harder at it.
Toddlers have a lack of kinesthetic awareness. When I see toddlers in the clinic, parents often are concerned about the amount of bruising they have. I do my best demonstration of a toddler walking, focusing on a point across the room, a toy or whatnot, instead of looking at the floor. While my antics always get a laugh out of the parents, the point is made.
Many runners run like toddlers. Focused on our goal ahead, shoulders back, eyes forward, we don't always see obstacles on the ground. Which is a recipe for a wipeout.
Have you been called uncoordinated? I was that child who was politely told that maybe dance wasn't my best skill. I'm that adult who has to be re-taught the electric slide at every party. When I workout with Becky, she has to break down every exercise for me, step-by-step. It took me forever to learn to do carioca, which is a standard warm-up for many athletes. When I told my teenage son I was struggling with carioca, he rolled his eyes. I knew I needed an intervention.
I share a lot about running and yoga on the blog, but I don't talk as much about some of the nuances of my training with Becky. While I do a lot of balance poses in yoga, Becky works with me on balance exercises as well. I might moan and groan when she pulls out the Bosu, but working out on an unstable surface forces me to engage my core and maintain balance. She also employs these techniques when I am strength training, by dangling kettlebells or chains from the barbell.
Balance poses challenge your equilibrium. While I was preparing this blog post, I asked Becky for some examples of activities that help with kinesthetic awareness. Balance exercises were on the top of her list. She also suggested changing it up by doing the balance exercises with both feet, one foot, eyes open, eyes closed, even surface, uneven surface, without upper body movement, and with upper body movement. You can use a wall until you become more comfortable with these activities. Any yoga balance pose will work.
Here I am in one-legged knee-to-chest pose, which is a simple yoga balance pose. Try these and share your results in the comments below.
|Simple knee to chest pose with eyes closed|
|Knee to chest pose with arms overhead on an uneven surface|
|Knee to chest pose, arms overhead, eyes closed|
|Tight core would have held this one up!|
|I don't land it every time!|
|On terra firma, I got Warrior2. On a tree trunk? Not so much.|
Are you kinesthetically unaware?
I'm linking this post up with DebRuns for her monthly Wednesday Word, which today is Nimble. I'm also linking up with Debbie, Susie, Lora, and Rachel for Coaches' Corner as well as Nicole, Annemarie, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday!
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