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How to walk and balance better

Depending on how far a cat falls, it will usually land on its feet. This is due to cats having an inbuilt balancing system called the 'righting reflex' that allows them to orientate themselves in space. Humans have proprioceptors which are neurons in the muscles, joints and ligaments that allow us to sense where our bodies are and how they are moving in space.

There is the belief that we lose our balance as we age, that older people fall more easily. In our modern lives we tend to be more sedentary. This lack of movement can 'switch off' the proprioceptors that we use for balance in movement.

To maintain balance as we age, we need to keep moving our bodies. The best self help movement we have is walking. Walking though, unless done properly, is just suspended falling.

Tips for better walking:

- Look after your feet! Regularly clip your toenails - don't tear at them. Use a pumice stone to keep the skin soft and supple. If you need to, put moisturiser and socks on your feet before bed.

- Keep yourself well hydrated. Our neurons work better when hydrated.

- Go barefoot as often as possible. Allow your feet to sense the ground you walk on.

- Invest in two pairs of good walking shoes that you can alternate each day.

- Practice balancing on one foot. Keep a wall nearby to steady yourself till you can truly balance on each side well.

- Give yourself a foot massage while you're standing! Stand with your feet inside hip width apart and parallel, knees off lock. Walk on the spot - as the one heel goes up, the other goes down. Gently sway from side to side. Now sway slightly on the diagonal - from the right heel to the left ball and then the opposite way making sure to keep your toes on the ground. Now gently do hip circles over the ankles - small movements in both directions.

- Bounce! Flat footed bouncing helps to make your legs strong.

- From sitting to standing, come up slowly keeping your knees bent. When you can look straight ahead, then straighten your legs.

- Place your heel down, roll the foot to the ball and toes before lifting your other foot.

- As you swing your arms, make sure that you swing the opposite arm to the foot that is forwards.

- When the weather permits, walk outside every day, otherwise do a couple of circuits of your local shopping mall.

- Being on your feet helps to activate your Kidney 1 acupoint in the middle of the balls of your feet. This point allows you to send energy down into the earth to ground yourself and to draw energy up from the earth to energise yourself. When you're grounded you feel calmer and more centred in your own energy. This allows you to feel more energised and motivated.


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