Keeping Your Balance – The New Leading Balance and Fitness Revolution

By: ARIANA HERNANDEZ

Edited By: CHRISTINA COLAVECCHIA

Imagine a nice sunny day at the park with some friends. Trying to come up with an activity for a day like this is probably pretty simple. Maybe it’s kickball or a game of ultimate frisbee. Although these games are fun, you might want to try something new and exciting. If you are looking for a challenge and a fun way to work on your balance and agility, slacklining is definitely something worth looking into.

Originating in the 1980s in Yosemite, slacklining has turned into the leading balance and fitness revolution used by outdoor enthusiasts and people of all ages. It is the sport of walking on a small nylon rope that is usually anchored between two sturdy trees lower to the ground. It is practiced on college campuses, parks, and even 2000 feet above the ground by the more advanced slacklining gurus. Some people slackline for fun, while others for the health benefits and for meditative purposes.

“I was introduced to slacklining when my college volleyball coach said that it would help improve my agility and reduce the risk of injuries, something that is necessary when playing volleyball at such a competitive level,” says Lindsey Jackson, who has been slacklining for the past four years. The result of continuous slacklining is the strengthening of the spine, back and stomach muscles. It also provides additional support for ankles, knees and hip joints.

Some medical practitioners and professionals advocate slacklining and it is often recommended because of its ability to improve proprioception and coordination.

Balance, sometimes called proprioception, is the communication between your mind and your muscles that allows the body to remain stable. Proprioception is your own sense of where your body is in space. It helps make your body less prone to common injuries, such as twisted ankles, and helps build muscles to support the rest of your body. One of the ways to improve proprioception is to put the body in an unstable position and then balancing.

To have good balance means…

• Good coordination and strength
• Safety in every day movements and sports activities.
• Less joint problems
• Reduced risk to injury

I tried slacklining for the first time last summer when my friend Austin introduced it to me. I sat there in awe as I watched him do tricks and flips while maintaining his posture and concentration. The initial dance -like movements on a slim rope developed from tightrope walking. Austin has been to many slacklining festivals around the world and is often known for trying daring stunts over cliffs high up in the air. According to Austin, it takes a lot of focus and forces you to channel all of your energy into keeping your balance. Although I am not able to do many tricks yet, I have found that in order to get to the basic level of slacklining, some of the tricks used by those who are beginners or at the intermediate level are:

• Balancing with your feet sideways – very basic, it’s a skill that is needed for most tricks. It changes your entire balance stance.

• Turning around – being able to use your turn on your feet to do a pivot turn. There are several techniques, but the most common involves pausing with your feet sideways.

• Walking backwards – one foot behind the other. It helps to keep your eyes focused while stepping back and aligning the ball of your foot on the webbing as you go backwards.

Balance is essential in our lives and is something that is an important part of many cultures across the world, so get started on living your balanced life with slacklining.

I found my slacklining kit at Free Flow Lines. This site not only sells slackening kits, but also offers set up and training videos, as well as upcoming events.

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