Interesting balance test

My brother is undergoing some physical therapy and described a balance test.
Stand on one foot, close eyes, and remain on one foot for one minute. Switch to other foot, repeat.
My first thought was- I ride a unicycle, piece of cake. It turns out for me it was not so simple. Evidently, as explained to me(in simple terms), a person’s sense of balance depends on muscle memory as well as visual cues. And it is important to retain both abilities as we age. My brothers PT actually recommended practising balancing with eyes shut.
Even with a throughly weathered 63 year old ego I was a bit humbled and surprised. I was pretty convinced that being a unicyclist would keep me from toppling over in my elderly years (which are not too far away).
Anyway, as silly as this posting is, I am curious how easy or difficult some of you other riders find this little balance act (rookie, intermediate, and advanced level riders).

I hope no one minds this irregular post.

Low skilled unicyclist here. I loose my balance as soon as I close my eyes. Not that it is easy for me to stand on one foot with my eyes open. Unicycling is way easier:D

I tried the test, once, and failed miserably. I started getting very wobbly once I shut my eyes.

Regarding variations on the remark, “You’re a unicyclist; you must have good balance!” … Balance is a complicated matter, involving the interaction of a few different systems:

  • The semicircular canals of the inner ear
  • Visual cues, particularly of the horizon
  • The proprioceptive sense of gravity's influence on our body and limbs

For each type of balancing skill, the reflexes need to be trained to react quickly, and this takes practice.

I’m maybe slightly above Rookie at the moment. More practice definitely needed to master that new skill!

That’s a funny test. If I don’t move too far from the balance point, I can stay on one foot. If I start moving too much, it doesn’t take long before I have to open my eyes, or get on my 2 feet.

What is is supposed to test?

It’s funny how people assume you “have balance”. I don’t think one is born with more balance that another. Balance is something we work on to counteract an unbalanced situation. :sunglasses:

I had to move both arms and the other leg to stay balanced, very difficult.
I am a intermediate rider.

Wow, quite surprised. With eyes open is cake. With eyes closed the longer it goes the harder. Minimizing movement works best for me, but with arms and legs moving it might help out improving balance, with practice. Im almost imagining Im doing a stillstand.

I have been fascinated with this for a very long time. I did a lot of rock climbing and when climbing slabs (positive angled rock) there is nothing to hold on to and just tiny things to stand on. Between stances there is a lot of balancing going on. As a training some people try to stand on one foot with closed eyes for long periods of time.

On a unicycle (and don’t try this at home) it is quite possible to ride with your eyes closed. I know because i tried. The challenge in unicycling is in balancing pitch much more than roll which is more important in slab climbing. So a unicyclist should be good in leaning forward and backward with eyes closed.

As far as unicycling and balance: I think once rolling, the wheel is doing the balancing, and I’m just working to stay on top of it.

I started out on my left foot with my eyes closed right after you posted. I got bored after six hours so I am switching to my right foot, now. I’ll have to go to bed in about nine hours, though.

It’s been a while since I worked with satellites in 3-dimensions so please correct me if I’m wrong. Wouldn’t it be yaw instead of pitch?

Also, riding with your eyes closed is great practice. Just make sure you are in a gym and the other riders know what you are doing. During the 2+ mile ride through the train tunnel at International Harper Day it’s pitch black except for a tiny dot of light at the end of the tunnel. Even with a strong flashlight (thanks, Greg) the ride can be scary as hell. :sunglasses:

I provided that light for you, Kenny. I kept my eyes closed the entire 2.25 miles.

Actually, I pull ahead of everyone for a while each time I go through the tunnel just so I can turn the light off for ten seconds or so at a time. The little white dot at the end makes keeping your balance pretty easy but you don’t know what the surface looks like that you’re riding on or where the tunnel walls are. Fun and exciting but unnerving.

At one of the UNICONs in North Bend (2002 I think) I saw Max Dingemans from TCUC ride an entire standard skills routine blindfolded. That was impressive.

I heard at a summer camp that the average PGA tour golf pro can hold it for 20 seconds each foot.
I held for over 1 minute right foot, and 25 seconds left foot. I am a beginner to intermediate rider.
I don’t think unicycling necessarily helps your balance for this that much, unless you unicycle with your eyes closed for some reason.

yaw is rotating about the z axis sticking upward for car dynamics and downward for flight dynamics. So Yaw is directional stability. Rolling is rotation about the axis sticking forwards, i.e. falling sideways and pitch is about the axis sticking left (or right) so dismounting front or aft. If you study the dynamics of a ship you’re in for a treat since the axis are seldom clearly defined…

I have done a fair bit of yoga so my balance is quite good. Standing on one foot is no too difficult.

Many postures involve standing on one foot, usually with the arms up, palms together and the other foot somewhere odd. If I felt stable I would sometimes try to hold them with my eyes shut but it was never easy.

That is a fun test.
When I wasn’t flailing with the other 3 limbs, I felt like I was leaning sideways over the standing leg.

I am sure it is even funnier to do with a camera and see how silly you look when going through a minute eyes shut :smiley:

I was surprised that it was harder than I expected. The first 20-30 seconds on the right foot were easy, then I started having to really work by leaning and flailing my arms and doing constant corrections, but I made the 60 seconds. The second foot I tried to do more methodically and succeeded in doing less flailing, but still had to really concentrate and work hard. But it is a fun test. Oh, I am an intermediate-advanced unicyclist I guess (intermediate or even beginner as far as skills/trials goes, e.g. I can’t ride one-footed, but getting close to advanced in Muni).

This is one of the exercises they give you for recovering from ankle injuries. A lot of your kinesthetic sense of balance comes from nerves in your ankles and other joints, and sprained ankles can damage those nerves. It also strengthens the ankle muscles (feel how they’re flexing as you correct).

Hmm… I hardly had any trouble with this at all. It felt weird in my head, but I stayed upright just fine! :astonished:

Maybe all the night-time riding I do helped :smiley:

I was curious if advanced riders found this exercise easier. Apparently not.
Thanks for the replies