All of us have had moments where we've lost our balance. It's like time stands still for a few seconds while we flail in all directions looking for something to brace our fall. It's in those moments that we all have felt that disconcerting sense of vulnerability.
As we age, fear of falling quickly limits our inclination to do physical activities, and when that happens our physical body quickly deteriorates. This is where Qigong training really comes in handy, especially when specifically using Qigong for balance.
Living within our inner ear, are three little structures called semi-circular canals. You can think of them like little carpenters levels. Each one of them is positioned at a right angle to others and allows our brain to figure out where we are in space.
Visualize three tiny fluid-filled tubes. The inside wall of those tubs are lined with tons of tiny sensory hairs, and floating in the fluid in those tubes are little crystals. As you move your body through space, gravity acts on the crystals, pulling them downward through the fluid. As they brush against the hairs, signals are sent back to the brain telling it where the body is at that particular moment.
However, if there are any changes in the thickness of that fluid, the crystals don't move as quickly as they normally do and the sensory feedback is slow to reach the brain. This can happen when we get sick with a head cold, sinus infection, or of course, any kind of ear infection.
When the feedback info is late getting to our brain, it can think that we are still moving, even though we've stopped. The discrepancy between physical movement and sensory feedback is what we call dizziness.
However, our balance isn't all neurologic feedback. The other part is muscular stability. And when it comes to the stabilizing muscles that determine our ability to catch ourselves before we fall, there are many that come into play.
Of course, the muscles of our feet and ankles help us to make a connection to the ground with each step we take. The muscles of our upper leg help to stabilize the knee as we transfer weight from right to left. Our core muscles keep our upper body upright and balanced over our hips. Our neck muscles maintain the position of our head above our shoulder girdle.
But it's the lateral stabilizer muscles on the side of the hips that are of pivotal importance when it comes to stopping a fall and maintaining our physical balance. Unfortunately, it also happens to be an area that is seldom conditioned through everyday activity. So without specific exercise to strengthen the side of the hips, they weaken quite a lot as we get older.
The Tensor Fascia Latae or TFL, the gluteus minimus, and gluteus medius make up the muscles that form the lateral hip stabilizer compartment. Although they are small in stature, they are quite important in function. There are many ways to challenge and condition the lateral stabilizer muscles and Qigong practice is one of the best.
Qigong exercises challenge the body to move in new and different ways that cause the body to constantly make micro-adjustments to the physical structure. It basically teaches the body how to work in a more unified and coordinated fashion as you move through space.
The slow-motion dance-like quality of Qigong practice makes it the perfect answer for those who don't feel comfortable going to the gym or a yoga class. By simply spending a few minutes a day connecting your mind to your breath, your breath to your movement, and some fun to the moment, you can regain your confidence in the way your move through life.
So get off the couch, put down the remote, and use some Qigong for balance to bring some life, back to your life and find your balance once again. Give it a try!
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