Final Two Agilities 

In the round of agilities performed during most training sessions. The final two present the most challenge. They feel most difficult to maintain balance. While, the first two, the side-slide and karaoke, feel like they place more pressure on my footwork. The last two exercises are a high-knee skip and walking backwards. These two agilities also move me forward and backwards. Where the first two exercises moved me laterally across the floor. Both of these agilities place pressure on my core stability. They each have me struggling with maintaining balance in the upright position. With my upper body having the tendency to slump over toward the ground. The slumping can leave me susceptible to tipping over toward one side. Which, causes many uncomfortable sensations as I move up and down the wooden floor. Each of these movements have gone through some progression. The high-knee skip moving into a clap-jack. Where my hands are asked to clap under the elevated knee, during the movement. While, walking backward has also made a progression. The exercise continues to be worked into running backward. These two progressions of the final two agilities placing even more pressure on balance. The first two agilities however, have not had the progression stages attached to them. All the agilities have served different purposes in our sessions. In addition to helping improve cerebral palsy movement. They also help keep my heart rate elevated. Helping me improve my endurance. 

Skipping of any kind has always been challenging. The activity was often avoided when growing. Always causing fear for me with the possibility of falling. I can remember not even attempting to skip as a kid. But, like many things scaring me as a kid, I ended up giving it an attempt. When I thought, skipping might be doable, I tried. At the time my attempt was made, skipping worked. I’ll be it, a pretty abbreviated form of skipping. However, the accomplishment brought an exciting feeling inside. Moving forward many years, the skipping motion Bernard has me doing isn’t so abbreviated. The skipping agility began with a regular skip. Much like the movement done during childhood. Today, I was able to skip without holding back on the motion. Having confidence in the ability to balance myself. We began by skipping down the yoga studio floor. It wasn’t long before the regular skip was deemed a little too routine. Bernard decided to add challenges to my movement. Having me lift the off knee high into the air during my skip. This motion proved to rattle my nerves a touch. Causing more instability to the movement of skipping. The high-knee skip took time, in feeling secure with the movement. At moments of insecurity, my knee would fail to rise the intended distance. Because of the fear with instability, I would often fall short of the full range of motion. Opting for feeling more comfortable. As often has been the case, Bernard had a solution. 

The goal seemed to be getting my knee into the air. Feeling like it would place added pressure on my balancing ability. Which, the way the high-knee skips were feeling, seemed true. Attempting to get my knee high into the air brought nervous energy. But, it was becoming clear, in order to achieve our goals, an added element was necessary. Something to bring out consistent height in my knee during the skip. Bernard called it a clap jack when he presented the movement. When my knee was raised during the skip. I was to clap my hands together under the knee that was elevated. Making sure I would get the high-knee part of the skip. There have been challenges for me in fully executing the clap jack. Lifting my knee with that kind of height brings in the balance anxiety. Feeling like I could easily loose the stability of my one leg and fall. Which, to this point hasn’t really come close to even occurring. But, we can leave the skill of Bernard to better recognize my abilities for another post. He understands what I am capable of before I have the comprehension. Another challenge in the clap jack movement has been the inflexibility of my hips. A challenge in many people with the cerebral palsy type I have. So, to do our best with the situation. When my knee elevates with the skip, I touch my fingers together in the best way they will connect. The modification gives me the ability to best perform the agility. While, still working to get my knee high enough to clap my hands together. 

The final agility performed in the circuit has been the hardest. From the beginning of this agility, Bernard has wanted me to run backwards. Or, at least move as quickly as possible in reverse. There wasn’t any way for me to run backwards at the introduction of the exercise. Even walking in reverse was going to be a significant challenge. So, we began with making attempts to walk backwards down the yoga studio floor. I didn’t understand the importance of this exercise until talking with Dr. Dana. The chiropractor mentioned, walking backward as being the opposite of spasticity. When I work on moving backward, it actually stretches the muscles used to walk. The information was fascinating to me and had me taking this agility more seriously. So, when we began moving backward my steps were short. They also felt very unstable. My body would waver from side to side with most of my steps. As my upper body hunched forward toward the floor, just trying to remain balanced. Bernard had me working through a few challenges with the backward motion. One of them being to keep my upper body upright by holding my core tight. The solidness in my core would help me keep steady. The coordination of my hands was another tricky aspect of walking backward. As the hand moving forward needed to be on the same side as the leg moving back. Making the correct arm movements helped with the stability in my body. For a time with this exercise, getting the arm movements down was confusing. Bernard spend time, it felt like during each attempt at walking backwards, giving me the example with the arms. 

Moving backward remains the most challenging of the agilities. It wasn’t long after figuring out the coordination of my arms that Bernard sped up the exercise. Wanting me to get into a quicker motion when moving backward. He gave me examples of the movement when done at full speed. Allowing me to watch him move across the floor. His examples finally helped me see how to achieve the proper footwork. I watched more of a reverse glide on the forward half of his feet. The movement really didn’t look like a step. Another aspect I noticed was Bernard never rocked back on his heels. Inside my backward steps, I was still using the back half of my foot for balance. In order to move in reverse quicker, I had to remain on the balls of my feet. Watching the example from Bernard, helped me understand how I needed to move. With the thought inside my head. We picked up the pace of moving backwards. The movement brought anxious trepidation as I tried being lighter on my feet. Attempting to let them glide across the floor instead of making a step. My strides were short, in order to keep some feeling of safety. But, again when the strides appeared steady, Bernard wanted me to push back further through my heel. He spoke about increasing the stride length. While, continuing to work on the stride frequency. Which, I think of as more speed in my steps. 

The four agilities in our circuit help me with cerebral palsy improvement. Helping with balance, coordination, strength, and mobility. The final two are the most challenging of the four. With the final agility, moving backwards, being the most challenging. But, with the work done on moving in reverse, comes an easier time for my legs, moving me forwards. We keep working on the movement backwards. As it has become the agility we spent most of our time improving. Trying to help me increase the length I push my leg behind me, increasing the mobility of my hips. The motion also stretching out the back of my legs. Giving me a little more ease in the movements of daily life. There isn’t as much cramping in the back of my legs. Particularly around the back of my knees. My speed moving backwards continues to increase. As I continue to gain the feel and confidence to stride instead of step. The stride I have established gets me down the floor in about twelve lengths. Bernard has begun counting to start measuring for improvement. The agilities have truly helped me work on conditioning. They have elevated my heart rate and got me working at a quickened pace. Helping me improve my footwork in different ways, with the variety. Side-sliding, karaoke stepping, skipping with my knees high in the air, and learning to move backwards. Something I could have never imagined learning how to execute. Bernard continues to challenge me with things that don’t seem possible for me to achieve. They take me on a journey of cerebral palsy improvement I couldn’t have imagined. 

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