As promised, today’s blog will provide a number of fun ways to think about balancing your body in daily life. Consider all the things you do every day that might cause you to be lopsided: holding a baby on a particular side; brushing your teeth with one hand; controlling the gas and brake of a car with the same foot; opening a jar with the same hand; stepping into your pants with the same leg; sleeping on the same side every night; crossing one leg over the other; combing your hair; shaving your legs or face; opening a door; carrying a bag, briefcase or purse; reading labels in the grocery store using the same hand to hold the item.
You probably don’t even notice the hundreds of little things you do every day that work opposing muscles at different levels. Over time these variances can create muscle imbalances. Since muscles pull on your bones, the imbalances can pull you out of alignment. So for one day try thinking about doing everything backwards. I don’t recommend driving with the other foot because that can actually put you in danger, but if you went to a safe parking lot and tried it out, you might find it pretty difficult. One time I pressed the brake with my left foot and without meaning to, I slammed the break. I didn’t realize how delicately my right foot works to maneuver the pedals. My excuse is that I drive a standard so my left leg is used to pushing the pedal all the way to the floor, but it proves the opposing sides of my body have learned to react in different ways.
When you get dressed in the morning try stepping into your pants or skirt by lifting the opposite leg first. Focus on your balance. When opening jars try to open them with the other hand. Drink and pour your coffee with the other hand. It will be difficult not only because of muscle imbalance, but because we aren’t all ambidextrous. We favor one side because we are better at using that side, but that only increases the problem. Try carrying your purse or briefcase on the other side for an entire day, even if it gets a little uncomfortable. Open doors with the hand that doesn’t usually reach for them. Try sleeping on the other side. If you’re like me, you might not even be able to fall asleep. It feels so uncomfortable to change our routine. For any of the differences listed above, try doing them with the opposite side of your body. Come up with others. Do it for one day. See how it goes. Maybe it won’t be that difficult for you.
It very well might remind you of your first Pilates class or any Pilates class for that matter. You really have to focus on everything your body does. It doesn’t want to do those motions naturally. You have to retrain it to balance itself. But that is part of the point Joseph Pilates intended with his exercises. He wanted people to think about their body throughout the day. So try thinking about it and try forcing it to act in a different way. Think of it as a game.
And, if you come up with other tasks you do daily that you reversed or you want to share how your experience went, post a comment here. Maybe after one day, you’ll find yourself wanting to try it more often.