A few years ago while on a family vacation at the Outer Banks we came across some young people learning Slack Line.They had attached the one-inch wide strap to two posts in the park and were walking or trying to walk on that line.
Since I was beginning to have some balancing issues, thinking about slack-lining was the furthermost thing from my mind. A year later, my son, Michael, came for a visit and immediately attached a slack line to two trees in our yard. He mounted the line and started walking on the line. It looked easy when he got up on the line. I was impressed! Next, Michael asked if I wanted to try. Of course, I said yes and asked how to get up. He said, “Don’t pause – just step up on the line and take my hand for balance“. When my foot touched the line, my leg immediately went into uncontrollable shaking. Better quit before I’m on my back on the ground.
Fourteen months later, last month, Joan and I drove to Maryland to visit with the family and see Austin before he took off on another adventure. Wouldn’t you know, Austin and Michael both had their slack lines up in the back yard and both were practicing. Later I asked Austin how the neuropathy in my feet and wearing shoes affected proprioception. He told me that people slack line all the time with shoes on their feet. He gestured toward the lower line and told me to stand with my left leg near the line and my right knee touching the line. He stood beside me and asked me to hold his shoulder with my left hand. Next, he said, “Don’t pause, step up with your right leg and keep the left leg and right hand out”. That worked fine for about five seconds. By the way, I was still tightly holding his shoulder. As I brought my left foot onto the line, my legs began to violently shake like a lone cop approaching a car full of men behind dark tinted windows after a high-speed chase.
Austin calmly said, “Look up at the tree and breathe”. The shaking slowed but did not stop until he again coached me to take deeper breaths and to relax. I was amazed that the deep breathing would have such an impact on my balance. Thanks for the breathing lesson Austin.
Conclusion: Breathing right and focus are very important in maintaining balance in any situation.
See ya at the gym!