Loss of balance is, to one degree or another, an almost universal problem with MS. Lack of balance can cause falls which cause injuries.
So, it is crucial to maintain whatever level of balance you currently have and then work to improve. Lack of balance can also lead to favoring one side (left or right) and further lead to muscle/strength imbalances, increased spasticity, and pain.
There are life challenges (getting in and out of the shower and up/down stairs) and exercise challenges (tree pose - not today). Certainly, practice can help balance improve and small adjustments can lead to big advancements.
Oh, and we must learn how to fall. Literally! Falling well (rolling, tumbling, and break falls) is much better than suffering broken bones and joint injuries.
Let's find our balance!
Balance = Practice
In order to improve our balance, we must practice it - like it's a skill set. It is something we once had, now it is lost or compromised and we must FIGHT to regain it!
So, practice! Practice each day standing on one foot and then the other. Set a timer or count and try to hold the balance for a few seconds - increasing the length over time.
Hold on if you must (or use the touch-point balance technique described below). Be safe - but push yourself to really hold the balance. You will be working on both the neurological part of balance and the muscle part.
You can even kneel to practice balance - it's closer to the ground and a bit safer.
Balance (Orientation) Thoughts
Two quick thoughts about balance come immediately to mind.
First, is employing a drishti. This is the ages old, yoga technique of using an external focal point to focus the mind and the body. When the gaze stays fixed on a singular point, the body finds focus. Using a drishti can be wonderfully helpful when attempting yoga balances and postures involving strength/balance combinations. Not surprisingly, use of a drishti is helpful in daily life when pushing your balance limits. Again, I am no yogi. For better information on this tool, check out: http://mantramag.com/dristi-tool-focus-balance-sara-elizabeth-ivanhoe/
Second, is the use of a single touch (usually a finger, but can be a shoulder, elbow, or hip) to find balance. I call this touch-point balance. Often I find that if I even attempt to stand on one foot (or shift my weight more to one side), I completely lose my balance. BUT if I touch a surface, even very minimally, with one finger, I am now using another sensory technique to find my balance. It's amazing to me how much that small touch can help. I use it in the shower daily! I touch my elbow to the shower side (not leaning - just brushing the surface), so I can briefly stand on one foot to wash the other. It works equally well for walking down stairs. One finger on the wall or rail - not holding on - just brushing the surface, allows me to walk the stairs with a higher level of balance and confidence.
You may need to move through a progression from holding on to lightening the grip to a firm touch to a lighter touch. This is not likely a one-step tool.
I will try to put both of these techniques on a video for better explanation. Let me know via comment if you would be interested in more information.
Give both a try!! Stay balanced!!
Cross Country Skiing / Snow Shoeing
Pop on a pair of cross country skis to help you enjoy winter and improve your balance. The technique is easy, but it does require some patience and practice to learn. Cross Country Ski and show shoe rentals are cheap.
Balance is required and learning how to get up after a fall is important.
The poles are great for catching those wobbles and keeping you upright. Bend those knees and glide on. The skis will take you to amazing places!