Brush Like a Flamingo

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Balance. The not falling over kind of balance.

I took a nasty spill the other day. I don’t  know what, besides a sharp turn and stepping from road to grass, made me fall.  For a few days, my shoulder felt like Jane’s might after swinging from too many vines, and my hand was black and blue, but luckily, I’m okay.  I might not be next time though.

As we age, balance becomes oh so important.  Falls are the downfall of those up in years.

Have you taken the balance test?  Can you stand on one foot?

I sure need to work on balance. And compared to other things to work on, like cutting down on sugar or learning to “show don’t tell” in my writing, balance work is  fun.

In the April O Magazine, fitness writer Gretchen Reynolds, writes, “My regimen consists of a single exercise–brushing my teeth on one leg.”

So I’m trying to do this too: Stand on one foot while I work on my not-so-pearly whites.

For a picture for this post, I thought perhaps I could show you my bathroom,the very spot where I brush my teeth.  Hmm. Boring?  TMI?

I went in with my camera and found the lovely bird above. I am hoping she might be the Queen of  One Foot Standing, a flamingo (although her beak is too long.) She sits in a tiny gold frame on the wall above my sink.  My eyes meet hers as I brush and balance.

Any balance tips out there?  Anybody swear by yoga or Tai Chi?  Tightrope walking?

Photo: Cliff found the pink bird picture for me in Tijuana years ago.  The print is tiny, about two by two inches.  Below are two other prints, even tinier, that he bought at the same time. The signature on the bird print is hard to read, but I think it’s “Urrutia.”  I can’t decipher the signatures on the prints below.

My friend Lisa just sent me this picture. She was in the Bahamas, getting balancing lessons from an expert!

30 responses »

    • When I hurt my knee in a fall, an exercise guru I like suggested a simple exercise to strengthen the knee and surrounding muscles. The cool thing is, it’s super easy AND actually relies on BALANCE to do the exercise. So, it not only is conditioning the muscles around my knee, but it’s improving my balance by strengthening the core muscles engaged in order to do the exercise. How simple?

      I get a study step stool, and step up with one foot, then up with the other, then down, then down, alternating legs; do this a half dozen times, then switch which leg I start with, and continue until I can feel a strain, but not pain, in my thighs. Again, you HAVE to engage your core muscles (where you get your balance from) in order to do this. I put my step stool in the living room and watch TV while I do it. How simple is that?

      Oh, and get a big floor ball to sit on at your desk or to watch TV. Another super easy way to force your core muscles to work.

      Hope this helps anyone looking for a super easy way to build your balance, along with brushing your teeth flamingo style, that is!

  1. Balance is a huge problem for us older folks. I realized my balance was going some years ago when I was taking a tap dance class. We would be learning steps standing on one foot and shuffling the other one and the older ladies in the class, myself included, would wiggle all around and have to have one hand on the wall or constantly put our foot down. One of the reasons, I have learned, that we have balance issues is hearing loss. And many of us listened to loud music back in the day and our hearing isn’t what it used to be. I am currently taking yoga and it involves alot of balancing. I am not sure practicing is making it any better especially since I have major hearing loss in my left ear. But it is part of the class and I will keep at it. Standing on one foot is something we do in class while picking something out in front on the floor to stare at. I find I am better on one foot than the other.

  2. No words of wisdom about balance here, at 26 I’m hopelessly wobbly already.

    HOWEVER, the print reminds me of the short story “The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst. I read it in sophomore English and it’s one of three short stories I actually remember from school.

    • Never read it. I should now! I still remember short stories from English class and mine were a long time ago, esp. “Lost in the Fun House” and “The Rocking Horse Winner.”

  3. I swear by my Wii Balance Board. In fact my consistently bad “balance score” on my Wii led me to an important discovery – one of my legs is shorter than the other. No big deal you might think. No! Big Deal! The body thrown even slightly off balance can affect all your joints. So, yes! Working on balance is a great tip. I’ll practice my flamingo teeth brushing maneuver in addition to keeping up my Wii workout. Thanks!

      • My husband hooked it up for me. ; ) I’m hopeless at that sort of thing! BTW, I’ll chime in for yoga, too. It’s even available on Wii Fit!

      • I bet your son-in-law to be would be more than willing to help set up a Wii Balance Board for you. The only tricky part on ours, is we have to change the setting on our TV when we use the Wii. There is a yoga section, and you get instant feedback on how you’re doing. It also helps you work on your reaction time. Squeeze in 15 minutes in the AM before you go to work, and you’ll be walking straighter and taller all day. Although, I must say, my favorite game is the snowball game–and I am not a video game person at all.

  4. So sorry you fell and got hurt. That is a very frustrating thing to do, and so scary. It does get one to think a lot about balance, that’s for sure. Glad you found a good way to remember to work on your balance every morning… well, as long as you remember to brush your teeth. :D

    Love the image of a flamingo standing on one leg. When we moved to Florida, we started collecting flamingo stuff. Now we have a “Flamingo Room.” {sigh} Things like that can get away from you, you know? So, my granddaughter is always on the look-out for flamingo stuff to give us. This is a little sticker she saved for me. I think it’s very apropo to this discussion, don’t you think? I like how it states “YES” as if it were a little cheerleader for balance!

    Anyway, YES, balance is a huge factor as we age. When I started riding my bike again (about 5 years ago I think) I could barely stay up, and going around corners was downright scary. My daughter rode behind me and she said she was mighty scared watching me ride. Now I ride like the wind, zipping around corners like nothin’! And my daughter says she’s mighty scared watching me ride. HA!!! I credit bike riding for any balance I have today.

    Hope you’re healing up, and keep up the flamingo teeth brushing stance. Not only is it a good exercise, I’m sure it’s quite entertaining. Gotta laugh!

    http://remarkablewrinklies.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Flamingo-Sticker.jpg

  5. I practice yoga which I think helps with balance. I balance better on my right foot than on my left because of a knee injury last year, making that leg weaker. I am going to start practicing the flamingo tooth brushing trick and the step trick to strengthen that knee. Thanks for the tips. I fell backwards over a parking lot bumper a few years ago and broke my wrist so I am always aware of how quickly a fall could change everything.

    • So true, Sandy. I slipped on a tiny bit of water on my tiled laundry room floor, went down on the side of my knee. That was over 4 months ago and I’m still frustrated with it. I keep trying to be thankful it wasn’t worse, but it’s hard. Now I never go barefoot in the house anymore.

    • Ouch. My husband fractured his wrist on a backwards fall. You’re right about how quickly a fall can change everything. Hope your wrist is okay now! Cliff done tons of PT but is happy with the results.

  6. I hope you are feeling better Barbara! A little over 2 months ago, I broke my foot losing my balance going down a step. Boy did I feel stupid (first broken bone, at age 48). I am only just now able to exercise again. I think doing anything on one leg helps but what I think helps the most is to work your core several times per week–squats, lunges, situps, step-ups, wall sits, etc etc (all the exercises we tend to hate). Or yoga. Just do it!

  7. love the flamingo teeth brushing stance!! i will try it! and what a funny image…. to think of us all brushing our teeth that way!! :)

  8. I am about to go brush my teeth and will have to try the one legged routine. WHo knows, Barbara, you may really have started a fad! WOuld all the step-stool walkers, one legged tooth brushers, yoga menopausal women please stand up (on one leg of course!) and be counted!!!

  9. As an earlier post said; yoga, yoga, yoga! Even though I have been forbidden to go back into the studio until I “heal” I have been given permission to do a couple balances while melting my heart.
    The yoga I practice includes balanced breathing, movement and thinking……now try and do
    that all at once. I actually miss it terribly. I think I am the queen of bad falls at the moment…
    it is bad when the ortho doc comes in and starts with ” you had a really, really bad fall.”
    But I will succeed……… before Pt and doc think I will!

    • I’ll sure be glad when you’re shoulder is better. That was indeed some nasty fall. All for a shower curtain, right? Were you hanging a new one? (That at least is more reason for a fall than hanging an old one!)

  10. Second, thirds, fourths (whatever!) to those praising yoga. I am 56 years old, and never took a yoga class until I was 50. I fell in love, so much so that I got my ACE group fitness certification, my YogaFit certification, and now teach four times a week a my local Y! We always begin class with core work and I always include a balance move. I belive that our exercise classes should funnel our wellness to functional fitness. I want to be that 91-year-young yoga teacher I saw on YouTube!

    • Inspiring! We have a studio in town. I know I need to give it a try, but I’m stiff as a board. I can walk for miles but have never been able to touch my toes. Thanks for chiming in and congrats on your teaching.

      • Deretta, I am really inspired by your comments. I have been doing yoga with a DVD for several years but first took a class just 2 years ago and have been on a couple of great yoga retreats. Great way to meet other fit, active women and get some sunshine and warm weather in the winter! I have looked at the YogaFit weekend classes and considered doing that next year. Do you recommend it? Did you get your Level 1 certification at a weekend program or over a longer period of time? I would love to be certified in Pillates too and they have some other programs like YogaLean I believe but you need to get Level 1 first, is that correct?

      • Deretta, I’d love to have you write a guest post with advice/comments and the story of your yoga adventure. Shoot me an email if you’re willing! Thanks.

      • Sandy, I highly recommend YogaFit. It is very fitness oriented, and everything focuses on safety in our movements. Level One was a two-day weekend training. I’m planning a Level Two and a Senior class next.

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