To Move, To Walk

I have different exercises which I regularly do to help me walk and move more like a “normal person”. One important thing for us to do is strengthen our legs, and our arms, and our abdominal muscles, and our back muscles, and our neck muscles – and every other muscle regardless of where it is. Most of us can use more exercise and will greatly benefit from being more fit. You don’t have to go out and become a body builder, just trim down a bit and build up what you already have. The concept is simple. You need to strengthen your foundation to better support your body. You need to strengthen your body to do what your foundation will then allow.

Rule one: strengthen your legs and your balance will begin to improve. Go walking for exercise and push yourself.
I’m not taking about ambling around the block, moseying around the neighborhood, or strolling through the mall!
I’m talking about the type of walking where you work up a sweat and start to pant like your dog.

Do the walking regardless of whatever else you do. Why? You need the practice!
Vary the speed and your posture to find what works the best for you.
Begin and end on your flat feet and roll your foot through each stride. Keep your stride lengths (“steps”) small and controllable.
When you begin to get clumsy, weaving around, first thing to correct are your knees. Flex them!

Only walk as fast as you safely are comfortable with but also push to improve your walking ability.
Walk farther each time. Push yourself and your abilities.
Rest when you need it but push yourself to do more.
Within a relatively short time you will start to notice an improvement in your balance and walking abilities.

There are also some simple exercises which you can do to help strengthen your legs without the need of special equipment.
You are going to use your own body weight and something to hold on to so you don’t fall.
You can do this in your house or anywhere for that matter.

Find an area with a smooth wall. You may need something to hang on to, on at least one side of you, for support.
I used a tall filing cabinet (full of whatever we put in there) for support when I started.
Whatever you choose, make sure you can’t push it away or pull it onto yourself if you start to fall.

Backup to the wall until your heels are approximately 6 to 12 inches away from the baseboard and keep them approximately a shoulder width apart from each other. And use your support! Now put your butt, shoulders and the back of your head against the wall.
While bending your knees lower yourself towards the floor while keeping your feet flat on the floor, then stand back up.
While you are going up and down keep your butt, shoulders and head against the wall .
Repeat this until your legs get tired, then take a break.
Keep repeating this basic exercise until you can go down and back up approximately 6 inches
without having to use any support to keep you from falling.

Now do the same thing on one leg until it gives out then switch to the other one.
Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat….
All you’re doing with this exercise is a “simple” squat. It’s a set up for most everything you’re wanting to do.

When you can safely, and remember I said safely, step away from the wall and try to repeat the same exercise without any support.
You may find that you are having some difficulty with your feet side-by-side.
If you are, then simply move one foot forward (do a mini lunge) and try it again.
Use your arms like the wings of an airplane to help you balance.
This may take you a little while to do but it is possible.

Keep this tidbit in mind when you start this exercise, wall or no wall.
Your feet need to be planted on the floor before you start the squat. Start and end with you knees slightly bent.

When I say that your feet are planted on the floor, what do I mean?
You need to stand with your body weight evenly distributed on your heels and the balls of your feet.
For those of us with a cerebellar problem this is very important.
When you step away from the wall and try this exercise without support make sure that you begin,
and continue throughout the up and down, maintaining your weight evenly distributed on both planted feet.
If you can do this and maintain your “planted feet”, you will find it easier to walk properly.

It’s time to get down people! Let’s lower ourselves into a deeper squat and get closer to the floor.
Squat like your picking something up off the floor, like a ball which requires both hands to grab it.
Always begin by flexing your knees FIRST. Lower yourself towards the floor initially by bending your knees straight forward.
Your feet will begin to feel heavier and more secure; more stable. And the rest of you will be more stable as well.
As you begin to lower yourself allow your shoulders to come forward as you bend at the hip.
Stay on your flat feet and keep going down until your fingers touch the floor.
Do it you can but you’ll need to relax to let things work as they should. So chill out and relax into the squat.

To come up begin with your eyes to raise your shoulders. Look for the “light switch on the wall” without straightening up your knees.
As your eyes come up so will your head and shoulders. As your shoulders come up your butt will come in to keep your flat feet.
Your half way up to standing! Now push through your knees into your feet to come up the rest of the way.
BUT DO NOT STRAIGHTEN YOUR KNEES. Keep them slightly flexed to keep your feet heavy, stable and flat.
Piece of cake aye!! Well keep working at it until it is a piece of cake.

Three most common problems:
Holding shoulders to far back causing you to go back on your heels.
Locking your knees which causes you to go back on your heels.
Raising your shoulders. (like shrugging).
All of the above causes you to stiffen damn near everything.
Stiffening causes your feet to have less contact with the floor.
Stiffening causes you to be more insecure.
Stiffening causes you to be more unstable.
The stiffening you feel is self induced – in other words – your fault for letting it happen!

Now that you have learned how to squat again, and some leg strengthening exercises and understand how to keep your feet planted on the ground,
let’s talk about re-learning how transferring your weight works.
Start with a mild squat. Just a little bent knees and allowing your shoulders to come forward by bending at the waist.
But remain on your flat feet!

Next, move back and forth from one side to the other, from one foot to the other, little by little, by pushing into your feet through your knees.
Push down into one foot (one heavy, the other light) then the other without your shoulders swaying back and forth.
When you push into one foot keep your shoulder over your hip, keep your hip over your knee and keep your knee over your foot.
This is a basic which everything else is built upon.
(Remind you of a high school prom dance?)

Keep doing this without bouncing up and down, keep your feet planted on the floor and keep your knees slightly bent.
As you get the hang of it start to transfer a little bit more weight as you continue going from one foot to the other.
Next, as you feel comfortable, begin lifting your light foot’s heel off the floor by pushing into the ball of that same foot.

Now we’re going to do the same thing with your feet in a different position.
Take one normal step forward with one foot then plant both feet.
Make your feet about shoulder width apart front to back as well as side to side like you’re standing at the corners of a box on the floor.
The only way you can do this is to have your body centered over both feet; your crotch in the middle between your feet.
Now do the same rocking exercise only shift forward and backward instead of side to side,
as you did when your feet were side by a side.
How to make it easier to do: bend your front knee straight forward then bring it back in as you maintain a mild squat.

A word of caution!
Do not transfer you weight entirely onto the ball of your forward foot yet.
If you do, it is very easy for you to continue moving onto your toes and then onto your nose!
Also, do not transfer you entire weight onto your heel of your back foot!
The back of your head will thank you for keeping it safe. Keep your feet planted as best you can.
HOW? Keep your shoulders forward over your forward knee while maintaining a mild squat.

Practice all the exercises I’ve just given you and they will help you more than you can imagine.
Let’s move on to the next part of this transferring of your weight with walking.

Those of us with cerebellar problems tend to shuffle walk, then stop and rest with most of our weight on our heels.
This puts us in an awkward position.
The proper way is, with each “step” forward, the first part of your foot to strike the ground will be your heel.

To get ready for this first step one foot must be free to move, hence, no weight on it.
Bend your knees slightly and stay in a mild squat.
Slowly move your shoulders forward to apply a little more pressure on the balls of your feet.
Holding this posture transfer your body weight to one foot by pushing down into that foot.
As you increase the weight transfer to that one foot the other knee will become lighter.
When all your body weight is on one foot, and your other knee magically lifts your other foot off the floor,
your body will begin to move forward, and then onto the other foot all by itself — if you let it happen.
DO NOT TRY TO PLACE YOUR FOOT! That is you knees job.
Your knee moves and directs your foot NOT your thinking mind!

If you are not too stiff in your posture,
as you make this forward movement your foot will flex on the floor from heel to the ball naturally
provided you don’t try to make your foot do something else.
Keep your feet heavy by staying flexed, by using your leg muscles, and keeping your shoulders forward.
To continue walking forward simply repeat this same process through alternating feet.