Week 4 Balance

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Photo by Quinten de Graaf on Unsplash

Balance and Play

Children need a lot of learning experiences with balance. If you look at a playground, many of the classic toys have some connection to balance - like swings, seesaws, or carousels.

Balance is more than being able to stand on one leg. It means balancing our head over our pelvis (sitting or standing), shifting weight (crawling, walking). Every sideways movement we make has to be counterbalanced, otherwise, we would fall.

Balance can be used to initiate movement (like lying on the side, just moving the arm backward, and being dragged back by its weight to lie on the floor).

The Ability to Balance

The anatomical ability to balance can be found in unexpected places, like the joints of the ankles or the connection between the uppermost vertebrae and the skull. Another thing that has to be trained to help us to balance is our vestibular system.

Coordination and the fear of falling

In the next video, you see a healthy grown-up whose balance is compromised by fear of falling. While physically perfectly able to perform the movements in other situations, the situation changes drastically as soon as he doesn`t know how to keep his balance. He cannot perform the weight shifts he would need, the legs get very stiff, instead of supporting the movement with a swinging arm, the arms are organized to hold on to something. The movements are small and performed from a few joints without the support of the spine (which is held rigid) and pelvis. In extreme cases, the Moro reflex will appear. All coordinated movement is lost. This can even result in blindness and temporary amnesia.

Improving balance will almost always improve general movement as well. Being aware of balance during exercises will make them more successful.