DO YOU REMEMBER someone telling you stories when you were little and how you could SEE those animal characters in your mind’s eye? Bonnie often used WORD PICTURES when she was teaching, and they were so vivid that you never forgot them.

Try this word picture:

You are on a very small raft.
There is mud all around you.
There are turtles in the mud.
You don’t want them on the raft.

What would you do?  Try this now…

With your right foot…
Step on the turtle just hard enough to push it into the mud. Now get back on the raft.
Do the same thing to the left, then front and then back.
Do it to a rhythm: step-on-the–turtle-get-back-on-the-raft.

man and woman ballroom dancingThis was just the first step of Bonnie’s way to teach a loose version of the cha-cha-cha. But more importantly, it was also the first step for helping folks with poor balance to better their balance and decrease their chance of falling.

When we were young, we played lots of word games like charades and hang man, and we had picture dictionaries. And then we left our “silly” games behind. When we are young and healthy and moving — and especially if we were athletic or danced — we moved in all directions using and developing our offensive and defensive muscles.

But then we grew up and left our dancing and athletics behind. What we also left behind was the use of those offensive and defensive muscles. Those are the muscles that allow us to catch ourselves if we misstep, get out of the way of an oncoming car or change direction quickly on the field, court or dance floor.  

Alas! What we don’t use, we lose. Many of us forget to move in different directions or don’t understand why we should. So we walk forward. Period. Sooner rather than later that is the only way we can walk…and often poorly at that.

A pool is an ideal place to begin to improve your balance. If you are fortunate enough to have access to a pool, get in it and move in all directions…forward, backward, sideways…hopping, skipping, jumping, sliding, galloping, running. If you don’t have a pool, put some music on and dance in your living room. If you are already at the walker stage, hold on as you step on the turtles.

Here is another one of Bonnie’s balance word pictures to try:

You are a waiter in a large restaurant. You must carry a small round tray aloft on fingertips of one hand. The tray has two glasses and a bottle of wine and you must deliver it, intact, to the customer across the room. The problem is that you have already had your own wine.

Now you try it! Put on some crazy music. Set your tray aloft. Staggering, twisting, turning, reeling, up and down with tray aloft get to the other side of your living room or to the other end of your hall.

Did you do it? If you did it correctly, you would be using many muscles in ways that you haven’t used since you were a kid. Your leg muscles would be simulating cross country running. Your balance would come into play. Your torso would have bent and twisted. And you would be laughing!

dancing girlRecently, I was working with nine children ages 5 to 13. I put on the music “We all Live in a Yellow Submarine.” Instantly, my living room was filled with yellow submarines, periscopes going up and down, twisting, turning, and looking all around, legs and torsos unaware of being worked in many ways for three minutes and without one collision.

Exercise should NEVER be boring. And if taught correctly and with imagination, it is fun and gets the job done.

Bonnie used word pictures to: get her point across; imprint the brain with an indelible reminder; use muscles in different ways; bring out the child in her students; and to share laughter.

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For more information about Bonnie Prudden®, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®, workshops, books, self-help tools, DVDs, educational videos, and blogs, visit www.bonnieprudden.com. Or call 520-529-3979 if you have questions or need help. Enid Whittaker, Managing Director, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®.