So, what would happen if you did fall? I remember skiing with my father and my husband about 20 years ago. My father (who was an excellent skier as well as a martial artist) took a very bad tumble. My husband witnessed the fall, and quickly skied up to him to offer assistance. My Dad was laughing as he got up, and my husband was stunned that he wasn’t hurt. He said, “George, you fell like a 30 year old!” And he got up again like a 30 year old. At the time, my father was in his early 60’s.
My Dad knew how to fall. Most of us do not, which leads us to develop a fear of falling. After all, most of our activities as adults are performed in an upright posture: standing, walking, running, dancing, sitting, etc. As a result, we lose our connection with the ground, we don’t trust our balance, and we also lose the flexibility (both physically and emotionally) to get back up. So, what can we do about it?
1) First of all, spend more time on the floor. Get down on the floor at least once a day and just lie comfortably for a few minutes. Allow yourself to get familiar with the floor and how it supports you. Try rolling side to side. Explore rolling to one side and gently spiral up to sitting. Play with crawling around the floor, and just notice what it feels like to be on the ground.
2) Practice getting down and up from the floor. Don’t make it a big deal, just play with it a little bit. Notice how you choose to do this. How can you make it easier, more comfortable and less effort? Let the floor be your friend, your teacher and your guide. Don’t be in a hurry to get up, but play with different movement patterns to get down and up from the floor.
3) Practice controlled falling. For this activity I highly recommend getting assistance from a Physical Therapist or Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner. If you have ever considered taking a martial art class, perhaps now is the time. The practice of falling, rolling, and getting back up is a huge part of the training. Some martial arts such as Tai Chi is an excellent way to connect with the floor and improve standing balance and is offered in many senior centers and well worth looking into.
If you currently have balance problems, a neurological condition, history of falls or osteoporosis, do not attempt these exercises, but do consult with a licensed physical therapist for assistance.
Remember, at some time in our lives, we all fall: physically, emotionally, spiritually. Having the confidence that we know how to land is crucial to being able to get back up again.
My Dad at age 77, skiing with the confidence of someone who knows how to fall. And get back up.