Fear of Falling (Part 2)
I think that everyone at some time has felt anxious about falling on the dance floor; whether it be fear of being injured or fear of embarrassment. Everyone has had at least one “slip” or near miss that has made us wary of falling. This fear can prevent us from dancing our best as we often restrict our stride to maintain control. The great news is, there are a bunch of tools we can add to our inventory to build confidence on the floor.
It may surprise you how dancing with a partner can easily mask our own balance issues. You may have heard people described as “heavy” to dance with, or found yourself providing or requiring a bit more support when dancing with particular people. This is usually an indication that they (or yourself!) are off-balance in some way.
For me, the real eye-opener that I had a balance issue arose when I started dancing by myself after dancing with a partner for so long. Even though I knew my steps completely, I struggled with the execution when dancing alone. This lead to to my teacher at the time developing some at-home activities for improving balance, which you can do too!
A great exercise for strengthening ankles involves standing with the balls of your feet on a step with heels off the edge. Rise slowly and strongly up on to toes then lower slowly, allowing your heels to drop lower than the step. Repeat 5-10 times.
Get a balance board
A balance board or “unstable table” is a fantastic tool for improving your balance at home. Spending just 5-10 minutes a day standing on the board will improve your body’s ability to balance and counterbalance when exposed to unpredictable movement.
Get a professional opinion on your posture
We are always talking about posture in dancing. Most often we are told to “Stand up straight!” Or, “Chin up!” which works great for people with forward slumped posture. However, such instruction can be detrimental to people with back-weighted posture.
A good dance instructor, Alexander Technique teacher or a Physiotherapist can help you identify your natural poise and provide guidance for bringing your body into optimal alignment. Contracting your stomach, expanding your ribs, flexing a hip, bringing your head forward or sending your head slightly back may be the one change needed to make a HUGE difference to your balance.