Skiing and Cerebral Palsy: Fluidity of Movement

The opinion of another person can often be valuable. Especially when the person providing the information has good knowledge and insights. As Bernard watched my movements inside the gym, he could understand things I wouldn’t notice. Sometimes I was feeling good and he was noticing some tightness in my movements. At other times, the stiff muscles I was feeling disappeared when they became warm. It was great to have the understanding from someone watching me move. When he commented on the movements being fluid during a particular session, I wanted to think about the reasons. At times, the reason for better fluidity in my body, came to mind without much thought, the answers would immediately become obvious when thinking over the previous day. On the other hand, there would be sessions where my body reacted well, but I couldn’t come up with the reasons. Those particular days would remain a mystery. During our final weeks of working together, I was skiing, often. I was finding that even with the soreness in my body, Bernard would comment about the ease of my movements. When he talked about the good mobility, I knew the day of skiing was the culprit. Because, he had spoken about similar finding the previous winter. When I had spent quite a bit of time skiing. His noticing of the positive impact skiing was having on my ability to move, was a major clue for me to keep skiing. 

Trying to find activities to improve cerebral palsy has been a goal. I do like a training session inside any gym, helping to specifically develop strength. However, there have always been parts of me that enjoyed competition. Mainly, the competition within myself to improve. While, working toward lifting or balancing a higher amount of weight has excitement. There has always been exhilaration in gaining the ability to perform any challenging exercise. But, that process doesn’t feel comparable to the improvement of sport. The joy felt from hitting the golf ball a little further, or taking on the more challenging terrain on skis. Those are the accomplishments that seem to fill up my soul. I believe, golf and skiing are two activities that help my cerebral palsy improve. Along with providing the possibility to participate in them, as my age moves forward. Golf and skiing call on balance and coordination, which are hampered by my disability. The two sports require hip flexibility and rotation. Something also challenged by cerebral palsy, due to the stiffness brought about by my disability. Not to mention, getting along in years becomes another impact hampering the ability of moving freely. So, I enjoy taking on the challenge of these two hobbies. They work in opposition on the calendar, keeping me active throughout the year. Though golf has been a lifelong love of mine, I think skiing probably has more challenging aspects for my disability. While, probably bringing with it, the better physical reward. 

I remember talking with Bernard about playing golf in the summer and skiing in the winter. We would discuss some of the advantages inherit in the sports. Skiing was great because of the number of variables it challenged. The sport of skiing downhill, holds each of my limbs independently responsible. My legs and arms are acting independently of one another. Each one called upon to execute a movement on the way down the hill. Though the limbs don’t work together, as would occur more prominently on a snowboard, the limbs do coordinate their movements. The action turns on many lights inside the brain. Requiring me to process lots of stimuli and make the accurate movement based on those inputs. Cerebral palsy wants to inhibit the speed with which I can process the information from the mountain. So, practicing all of the small movements, at the correct time, helps my cerebral palsy improvement mission. If we think about each leg being responsible for the turn left or right. The weight shifting required to take place, as my hips move, and my shoulders slightly turn. The functioning of my body seems to travel from larger to smaller movement, when the motion of the turn moves upwards inside my body. The requirement of all the coordination helps improve the signals from my brain, which have been hampered. All of the challenge also helps my emotional confidence, as my body feels freer when I finish for the day. 

Skiing over the previous two years has helped the emotional aspects of my life. As my body gains fluidity, my anxiety levels seem to decrease. The motion of skiing downhill requires the hips to activate, causing them to loosen. While, spending last winter skiing once per week, my body moved through everyday life better. Leading me to crave the activity even more and pushing me to make the commitment of a seasons pass for this winter. When starting to travel up to the mountain this year. I got into the habit of going up more often than was occurring last ski season. Having the pass only made things simpler when arriving to ski, without the obligation of going to the ticket window. Following a few weeks of skiing, I was working in the gym, during a session with Bernard. Performing an exercise which required me stepping to my side, moving underneath a bar. During the same short workout circuit, he had me stepping to the side, this time moving over a bar. The two movements were challenging to my balance and coordination, they had been done inside our workout sessions for weeks. When doing these movements on a day following one of my ski outings, Bernard commented on how fluid my movements were. Something he rarely commented on, usually speaking more about the stiffness, often showing up in my muscles. The reference to the stability and fluidity of my movements, solidified the positive impact skiing has been having on my disability. Showing me that I had truly found something enjoyable, that also has a strong improvement quality.

Over the previous two winter seasons. It feels like I have found an activity serving me better than playing golf. The adventure of skiing up in the mountains brings added challenge, as compared with playing golf in the summer. Golf has me operating from a fixed point, with both feet planted solidly on the ground. Where, skiing finds me working my way, continuously down the side of a snow-covered mountain. Having to maintain my balance, while making turns along a slippery surface, with my limbs working independently and together. I feel thankful for learning and developing my ability to ski during childhood. The skill has been extremely beneficial in an attempt to improve my cerebral palsy. Skiing has helped boost the confidence felt in daily physical activities. A day of skiing leaves me feeling more coordinated with my muscles. It helps my body feel in a more flexible state, void of the rigid muscles of most days. During the last couple of years my skill on the slopes has improved. Proving the capability of someone with a disability, if the task continues to be practiced. The blessing of traveling up to ski on my own has also raised the way I feel about myself. Finding the courage to take on the fears I have been challenged with in past years. Stopping me from feeling like I could venture up on my own without fear overwhelming my emotion. The comments Bernard made about the impact of skiing on my mobility, only pushes me to progress my ability on skis. 

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