yesterday the physiotherapist in charge of my ailing tendon taught me a terrible trick:
a asked me to stand on one foot on a trampoline.
standing on my “bad” foot was not easy but I managed
to succeed… hey I am a unicyclist I am supposed to have balance!
then he told me to shut my eyes … and I falled!
impossible to stand on one foot with my eyes closed!
he told me that balance was the result of three interactions :
-muscular: your body tries to keep balance
“you’re too old Bear: your inner ear is out of synch, and you rely
too much on visual information!”
(so that’s why I needed 3 months just to learn to ride !)
now how to train my inner ear and try to regain something there?
(Ok I cannot be a youngster again, but I need to try something)
my training program: with eyes shut
-stand, walk, jump on both feets, jump and do a 180 turn, stand
on one foot…
Yeap. Lots of normal human balance is visual. That is one of the main reasons we tell new riders (and skaters, pilots, skiers, etc) to keep their head/eyes up - with the horizon fully in view balance is easier.
we do this in yoga
stand on one foot, put the other foot behind the ankle hands either in ‘prayer’ position or on your head or pointing up to make u look like a big ‘Y’, keep the balance for a while and then close your eyes.
we’re constantly being told to focus on one spot (while u still have your eyes open) and to ‘look with your third eye’ once u close your eyes
u may dissmiss this as aery-faery new age nonsense, but i can stand on one foot with my eyes closed for well over a minute
it’s taken me a year to get there
and what really makes me sick is the fact that i can stand with one foot behind the other and juggle three clubs indefinately
I know I’m resurrecting an old thread here, but I was thinking of asking a question along these lines anyway. So, is it possible to train your sense of balance? If so, does training it in other ways help with unicycling? I thought my balance was reasonable, having done yoga and tai chi, but only with my eyes open, it turns out.
Not sure if the inner ear can be trained. When it is damaged the body will eventually compensate with the other two senses that factor into ones ability to balance. I’ve been using unicycling to help improve my balance through vision and muscular sensation. A few years ago I had a serious episode of vertigo which was thought to be caused by vestibular neuritis. It has taken a couple of years for me to get over it. Some people go to physical therapy but I took up unicycling. Even with this extra challenge I was able to learn how to ride in about 10 hours. I picked it up relatively quickly because I wasn’t afraid of falling. Within a day or so I gave up on holding onto anything while moving forward. So you not only need balance to learn unicycling you also need to be willing to take risks. Appropriate safety gear also helps.
Sorry to say but we do have more trouble with balance as we age. I’m hoping unicycling will help with that as well. I’m determine to keep at it as long as possible.
“Training” the inner ear is very limited, I guess it might recover in some cases if impaired. Instead you can train your brain to be more sensitive to the signals from your inner ear if you shut down other signals (close your eyes). Same happens if you damage a sense, other senses start compensating for it. The progress will be quite slow as noted, but your ability to balance should become less dependant on visual information by training.
The answer I’ve found is that it is ABSOLUTELY possible to train your sense of balance. I had a lot of success with vestibular therapy exercises from the physical therapist. I now do many of them on a daily basis and continue to improve from where I was just a few months ago.
I could ride a uni just fine, but something was off. It turns out I was concussed from being hit by a car while biking (and no, under the circumstances I would not have fared nearly as well on my 36).
I did a lot of different exercises during the recovery sessions, but now on home exercises I use a stability cushion and do balance on 1 foot eyes closed repeats with each leg daily. I also do steamboats (eyes open), and a few other exercises as well on a daily basis.
I have experienced tremendous improvements in the area of balance.
A lot of these exercises can be done with minimal equipment. Consult a PT and be creative!
Losing your sense of balance is weird and scary. It happened to me once years ago after an overnight train journey through Europe to a ski destination. It seems that lying cramped on one side all night in the bunk with constant vibration from the train somehow dislodged one of the little ear crystals on which balance depends. If I looked over my left shoulder, I fell over. It’s amazing how quickly you learn not to look over your left shoulder. Fortunately Google convinced me that I wasn’t dying of a brain tumour but instead had a condition called BPPV, which is treatable by having your head manipulated by a trained practitioner in such a way that the crystal rolls back along the spiral passageways to where it ought to be. If you can find a doctor that has heard of it and a trained practitioner. Or you can do it yourself by buying a ludicrous gadget attached to a baseball cap called the Dizzyfix, the inventor of which ought to get a Nobel prize. I ordered it as soon as I got home and it fixed me first try. As far as I know, it hasn’t left me with any balance impairment, though the condition can recur. It hasn’t yet, but the hat is on standby!
To some extent yes, you can train your balance, and doing lots of balancing things helps with other balancing things. BUT balancing is also very specific in terms of learning the subconscious muscle reactions necessary to keep in balance when doing different activities. I don’t think my ability to stay upright in an unstable flatwater racing kayak (so unstable it doesn’t sit upright with nobody in it) helped me at all with learning to ride a unicycle, the muscle reactions involved are so totally different. It depends what exactly you’re describing as balance - it’s one thing for the brain to be able to recognise an out of balance situation, it’s another for it to know what to do with it.
OK, this is interesting - I can now balance on one foot with my eyes closed for between 28 and 45 seconds, so long as I bend slightly forward and use my arms for balance. When I dredged up this thread before it was less than 10 seconds, though I don’t think my ‘technique’ was the same, so that may be the source of the difference rather than an actual improvement in whatever ‘balance’ is if it isn’t technique. I still can’t unicycle though, apart from rare glimpses.