Balance · 30 January 2010

I stand on one leg when I put on my shoes. Even when I tie the laces. I do that because I read somewhere that it is a good exercise to help with your balance. I used to stumble and almost fall and of course, sometimes I need to put both feet on the ground to make sure I do not fall. But for the most part, I keep my balance on one foot from the time I pick up my shoe until the time I finish tying it. Or at least I used to do that.

Unfortunately, I have not gone back to tying my laces on one foot since my Achilles tendon surgery. But I will because it was a fun little exercise and my physical therapist said standing on one leg would be good to strengthen my ankles and the muscles around my Achilles.

When I was doing physical therapy, I was supposed to stand on one leg on top of a pillow. I used a wadded up towel as a substitute for the pillow when I was recovering from my surgery and regaining my strength. As a matter of fact, I tried to do as much on one foot as possible. I am not sure that I started doing it for rehab, but to this day, I stand on one foot in the shower when I am washing the other leg. (It is much better than the days of having to sit on a stool and have a bag over my casted leg.)

Another practice that I have kept from my days of Achilles rehabilitation is standing on one foot while brushing my teeth. When I told my physical therapist that I was doing this, he got the strangest look on his face. I realized later that he must have envisioned me wobbling around on one foot moving the toothbrush back and forth in my mouth. He probably saw me with toothpaste suds all over my face as I waved my other arm wildly around trying to keep balanced against the action of my toothbrushing arm. I had to laugh when I saw this image, but I never did tell him that I use an electric toothbrush. He probably tells his other patients not to brush their teeth standing on one leg lest they poke an eye out.

While I would not recommend standing on one leg to brush your teeth with a manual toothbrush, I like the idea of standing on one leg to practice my balance for as many mundane activities as possible. More than just tying my shoes and brushing my teeth. It is good to practice those yoga poses I learned on the Wii even when I am not playing the Wii Fit game. And those one-legged poses have the added benefit of just being good for me and my Achilles.

Hopefully, I will not need to see the physical therapist again for rehabilitation, but since we live in small town America, if I do see him, I will make sure to tell him I am still working on strengthening my leg. I will also tell him that when I stand on one leg brushing my teeth, I use an electric toothbrush. Then I will show off and tie my shoe laces while balanced on one leg.

Standing on one leg to tie my shoe is not a novel idea. It might be an odd idea, but did I read in a book somewhere that it is good for you. For me, it has an added benefit as well. Now that my readers (both real and imaginary) know I do it, I can be ready with the pelican joke. When people ask me why I lift one foot to tie my shoe, I will give be ready with the punch line to that old joke, “Because if I lift them both, I would fall.”

© 2010 Michael T. Miyoshi

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