This past week one of my Tai Chi students came into class and said she had a great Tai Chi story. Two different times she got up from a chair, started to take a step and the weight on her foot was on the outside of that foot. She tipped to the right and felt like she was going to fall. Rather than pick up her back foot she ‘instinctively’ shifted her weight back a little to center herself on that front foot.
“I’m sure my Tai Chi training helped me do that so quickly. Without Tai Chi I think I would have either picked up my back foot or kept moving my weight to the outside of that front foot and fallen. I’m so excited that my body just moved to center itself on my foot and leg!”
There is a lot of research on how Tai Chi can help with fall prevention. This is a real-life example. Staying mindful of our stepping out and walking is a very helpful start to maintaining balance. In our Tai Chi classes, we intentionally learn to shift weight and know where our weight is. We practice being in a balanced state, with feet firmly planted and legs hip or shoulder-width apart. With repetition and practice, our body remembers. This is what likely happened with my student. Her body remembered and brought her quickly into balance.
For each of us, whether or not we are in a Tai Chi class or not, the key is to pay attention, when taking a step, picking our feet up, one at a time. Too often we’re thinking of something else because we think we will walk ok. We have done it for so long. Awareness and mindfulness can increase our chances of keeping upright and preventing falls.
Are you aware of your walking when you walk? Are you paying attention?