When you go up the stairs, with which foot do you start climbing?
Throughout this week, I invite you to pay attention when you go up a set of steps, or just one step. Do you usually start with the same foot or does it vary? Is there a pattern?
This question relates to the broader theme of finding out which leg you tend to rely on more for stability. This can help you better understand how you deal with balance and can also give you some clues on why you feel certain aches and tension on one side of the body more than the other.
Try it for yourself: stand on one foot (please only do this if you don’t have any balance challenges. You can also stand behind a chair and, using the back of the chair for support, simply transfer the weight to one foot without removing the other foot completely from the floor. Above all, be safe.) Notice which foot you chose to stand on first. Notice how stable you are on this foot. Then stand on the other foot. Which leg feels more stable?
Is your more stable leg the one that stays on the ground when you first start climbing the step, or is it the leg that you use to climb? How is it for you? I’m curious to know what you’ve noticed. Leave a comment below or send me an email with any questions you have.
When you start walking, with which foot do you take your first step? I invite you to notice this throughout the week. Do you tend to always take the first step with the same foot or does it vary? At first, just notice what you do, trying not to interfere with it.
If you observe that there is a pattern, then you can play with it. Try to start walking with your "non habitual" foot. Does it feel different? Does it change a bit the way you walk? Or not really? Some people might find that their walk feels a little different when initiated with the other foot. Why would that be? Don’t we alternate the feet when we walk anyway?
The thing is that we don’t use both sides of ourselves symmetrically – the same way that we have a dominant hand, we also have a dominant foot (the one you would normally use to kick a ball) and we tend to rely more on one leg for stability. There are also injuries, recent or old, which create different kinds of compensations. All of that influences our walk and is reflected in how we initiate it. How is it for you?
This week I invite you to bring your attention to the intensity of your grip on the steering wheel. Every once in a while, when you stop at a traffic light, bring your attention to your grip. Notice the amount of force you are using to hold the steering wheel. Are you using more effort than necessary for a secure grip? Or not? How much effort is there in your hands, forearms, shoulders?
Play with it. Grip tighter. Grip less. What is the “Goldilocks” grip that allows you to drive safely, but doesn’t carry unnecessary strain? (To avoid distraction, please, don’t do this while the car is moving, Awareness is great, but safety first!)
When you chew your food, which side of the mouth do you use the most? Do you have a preference? Do you switch from side to side? Do you tend to start always on the same side or does it vary?
With Thanksgiving approaching, it’s a great opportunity to tune into your chewing habits! It can give us information about our bite, our gums and the use of our jaw.
Even without food you can explore how you tend to bite by simply pressing your lower teeth against the upper teeth. Notice if you feel more pressure on one side of your bite than the other. For some people this could be the source of mysterious headaches in the temporal area.
If you place your fingers very gently on your left and right temples and bite your teeth, you will notice a small contraction in the temples. Depending on how you bite, you might notice that it triggers more the right or the left temple. Let me know what you found out! Happy Thanksgiving!
Do you tend to cross your legs when you sit? If you do, throughout this week whenever you find yourself crossing your legs, notice which leg is on top. Is it always the same one or does it vary? Notice if there is a pattern.
Try once to cross the other leg on top and notice if it feels unfamiliar or less comfortable. Many of us have the tendency of crossing the same leg on top. It’s a habit worth becoming familiar with, especially if you tend to cross your legs a lot.
Crossing the legs is not an action that happens only in the legs, it involves the pelvis and the trunk. Try the following: place each hand on either side of the pelvis – on the top of the pelvis, the iliac crest. To find the top of the pelvis, place your hands on your waist and slide them down until you bump into the bones of your pelvis.
Keeping your hands resting on the pelvis, slowly uncross and cross the legs a few times, bringing the same leg on top each time. Notice if as you cross your legs, the pelvis turns a bit and one side of the pelvis comes a little forward. Which side comes forward? The side of the leg that is on top or that is below?
Notice if one shoulder also comes a little forward. Remove the hands from the pelvis and slowly cross and uncross your legs paying attention if one shoulder tends to come a little forward? Which shoulder, the one on the side of the leg on top or below? In other words, do your pelvis and your trunk rotate in the same direction when you cross your legs or do they rotate in opposite directions? Or maybe your shoulders don’t turn. What is it for you? There is no right or wrong. Just notice what you do and get to know your own habits. As Dr. Feldenkrais used to say, “When you know what you do, you can do what you want”.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me or leave a comment below. I would love to hear about your experience.
When you are sitting, do you tend to have more weight on the right side of the pelvis or on the left? Or is it equally balanced?
Throughout this week, I invite you to every once in a while bring your attention to your pelvis and sense where your weight is. Does it vary? Does it tend to be always on the same side? Can you tell? Try not to judge it or correct it. Take a moment just to be curious and get to know what you do.
If you can't tell, try lifting one sit bone off the chair just a little bit. It's a small movement. As if you wanted to place a sheet of paper underneath. Do it a few times on one side. Then do it on the other side. Is one side harder to lift than the other? That's probably the side where you tend to have more weight.
I would love to hear what you found out. Email me or leave a line below with any comments or questions.