The Backpedal Course

We work on many exercises to help my balance. One of the most critical skills for me to maintain. Improving my ability to balance only helps my life become more fun. Because, many of the activities I have been drawn too, require good balance. If we think about the ability to ski or play golf, balance plays a major role. At the end of the day, balance remains important to walk. A skill which can be impacted during the span of a lifetime. There have been stories of people with cerebral palsy losing the skill. Having the ability to walk in high school, assistance free. Only to be seen later in life, with a walker to assist their movement. With cerebral palsy, muscles can be tight. Mine tend to become more challenging to move if they aren’t used. Leading me to believe, without exercise, I could lose the ability to balance. Bringing into my life the possibility of even greater challenges, walking being one of them. The deterioration would cost me the hobbies that bring much joy to my life. So, while Dr. Dana helps keep my body in alignment. Making it easier to move. Bernard builds on my aligned body by building my strength and balance. Hoping the process will keep me physically functioning at a good level for years. A challenge Bernard introduced recently was moving backwards. We began by walking backwards down the floor of the yoga studio. He then, made the movement more complex. 

Once the ability to walk backward was found. Bernard wanted to move into striding in reverse. I wouldn’t refer to the movement as running in reverse. More like moving just under the pace of slowly jogging. The idea has been to move backward as quickly as possible, with the skills I have. The movement was one of the most challenging to learn. Maintaining good balance moving forward, carries enough challenge. This was something entirely different for me to learn. Taking the first steps in reverse had me off balance, starting to tip on one side or the other. It felt really unstable to step backwards. Having me often wave my arms out to the side, in order to regain equilibrium. Driving Bernard to encourage me to hang in there with the movements. He seemed to feel, whatever the struggle inside. I was slowly beginning to pick up the movement pattern.  Eventually, the pace of the exercise began to quicken. My strides backward began to increase in their length. Still maintaining the balance required to move onto the next stride. We repeated the movement more than the other agilities I work on, inside the yoga studio. Instead of moving across the floor for one pass. Bernard would have me work the backward movement, down and back, twice. It was a tricky motion to get comfortable performing. Experiencing anxious feelings each time I did the exercise. My worry was around leaning back too far, causing me to tumble over backward. This fear has not become reality to this point. Though, I have felt myself tip in reverse a little further than I’m comfortable. Recovering my balance in time to get back onto a stable plain. The fear of moving backward in a straight line has subsided over the time spent working on the exercise. Now, when we work on moving straight back across the floor. We work on getting my legs to move directly behind my body. I have a tendency to round my backward steps, where my leg moves away from my body, as it moves backward. If I can develop more of a straight movement back, I would improve the efficiency of the movement.

We would continue working on moving straight across the floor in the backward motion. But, Bernard felt as though I had picked up the movement well enough to increase the complexity. He used small traffic cones to design a course for me to backpedal. The course would move me diagonally down the floor. Using the small cones to mark my turns. While backpedaling, I would move backwards around one of the cones, and backpedal diagonally toward the next cone. The movement brought about a few more challenges from moving backward, straight down the floor. Probably the most challenging among them has been picking up the cones in my vision. Moving in reverse has been challenging without the change in directions. Now, with the added element of moving around each cone. My balance would have to be maintained as I peered behind my body. Bringing into the equation, self-correcting my course with the knowledge of my next cones location. Picking up the next cone in the course often throws off my balance. Forcing me to slow my speed and change my direction, slightly. My steps slow with the uncertainty, before I can map out my next steps inside my mind. Allowing me to slightly accelerate and move around my targeted object. The rounding of each of the cones in the course has been challenging. Another place where my balance becomes compromised.

The rounding of each cone during the backpedal has been tricky. Though, I understand the value in learning to change directions. Placing me in another predicament where balance could be lost. Around each cone my feet are required to shuffle. Changing the direction of my hips and body. The tactic I have been using has been trying to take smaller steps. Leading to added steps being taken to shift my body. The smaller steps also reduce my fear of losing balance and tumbling to the floor. I have found it easier to maintain a center of gravity with my smaller strides. Frustration comes with the inconsistencies I feel when moving around each of the cones. It feels like the lack of balance holds me back from finding consistent steps to maneuver around the cone areas. This might be the exact concept Bernard has been helping me develop with the cone configuration. So, we will likely continue working through the backpedal course time and again. Helping my transition from looking back to pick up the sight of each cone and executing the steps to move around it. Peering behind me to see the cone seems to hurt my ability to balance well. Feeling like it momentarily discombobulates the motion, causing some disorientation. Leading to the inclination to take smaller steps, slowing down my speed. The time taken for my mind to recover, from glancing to pick up each cone, seems to impede momentum. Bringing into the equation, my concern over maintaining balance. The complexities of doing the backpedal course are pushing my abilities. 

The backpedal course has been a positive tool for my balance to improve. Helping me learn how to keep steady while changing directions. The movement around the cones has me concentrating on each of my steps. Working on the connection between my mind and the movement patterns. As those patterns are practiced each week, the movements will likely increase in speed. My coordination and balance would take another step forward. Improving on my abilities outside the controlled environment of the training sessions. It seems like one of the reasons for working my balance lately has been in preparation for ski season. The backpedal course has been great for the skiing preparation. Having me rotate my hips while on the move. Also, forcing me into uncomfortable positions while moving quickly. It helps me learn to recover when the balance of my body might wobble a bit. The hobbies in my life, such as skiing in the winter and playing golf in the summer give me goals. Each spring, we begin working exercises to help the strength and stability of my golf swing. With this being the first year I have planned to ski consistently. Bernard has started using the late summer and fall to help me prepare. The hobbies keep me motivated to keep training. They also help me continue to work on improving my disability. With the hope of maintaining good physical movement in my body, for as long as I possibly can.  

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