I used to be incredibly clumsy as a child, I would run into walls, fall, hit my head, hit my face and seemed to have two left feet. Though I can still be quite clumsy and get dizzy I have found ways to help me find my balance. As a child what helped me most was when I started dance lessons. Ballet helped me tremendously. I also did well in tap and gymnastics. I didn’t get to stay in my classes for a very long time but I learned everything I could and what I did not learn I watched on TV or got books and taught myself.
My family has always fed into my fixations.
So when it came to ballet they got me books about it (I still have my two favorite) and would find dance shows for me. I would practice all the time. I never did well on the balance beam though and I would use fallen tree trunks to try to get better. I used the couch for flips and the living room as my personal mat for my “floor exercise” routines. I also drove my mom crazy hanging upside down on couches and chairs. I still do this and did this at my work places as well. I had no idea why, I just knew I needed to be upside down.
Everything that I learned I have used my whole life to help with my balance.
Unbeknownst to me I was naturally helping my vestibular system by doing this. What came natural to me helped me gain stability in my thinking and with my vestibular system. I also loved riding my bike. I got a baby blue bike with a white banana seat one Christmas, I think I was around 9 years old. I wore that bike out. I was not allowed to ride far from our home so would ride back and forth, up and down the street. We were at a dead-end that had a turn and then would lead out straight to the street. I would get my bike going as fast as I could and then I would stand on the seat, like I was surfing. No hands! Yes, it was quite dangerous but I did not realize that at the time. I tried all kinds of bikes tricks.
At around 10 or 11 years old I got obsessed with a dirt bike.
It was candy apple red, with a black seat and awesome wheels. It was not a motorized dirt bike it was like a racing bike. I wanted to pop wheelies! And I did on the speed bumps that were on the road. At the end of the road where the turn was, there was a trail up to a huge mount of dirt hills that the boys in the neighborhood used to ride their bikes, four-wheel and use real dirt bikes on. It was awesome! I would sneak up there when I knew no one was there and I would ride my bike down steep dirt mounds and ride up dirt hills. I would wander all through the trees and find critters. But my favorite was riding my bike down those steep hills. At times I would fall and get hurt.
Actually, I got hurt often.
I got hurt trying out my bike tricks and have many scars on my knees, elbows, arms, and one on my face from skidding across the gravel road. The one on my face is not as noticeable as it used to be but if you look close you can see it. My mom cannot handle to sight of blood so I had to doctor all of my wounds on my own. I had no real sense of pain so it didn’t bother me at all. I found it fascinating to do “surgery” on myself with tweezers, like pulling rocks out of my knee. I am still like this and I am one of those strange people who enjoys going to the doctor AND I enjoy having surgeries. I know, I am odd but I think it is all so exciting. One of my procedures they gave me a video of it along with pictures and I thought that was the coolest thing in the world to see inside my body and what they were doing. I digress–sorry.
My love for bikes has not gone away.
I rode a bike pretty much my entire life, it is one of those things that helps my mind and body a great deal. When I was 19 or 20 up to about 22 I rode my bike to work most of the time. I think this helped me a lot with the stress of work and the my anxiety. I walked, road my bike or would roller blade to work and then about three or more times a week I went out dancing or I was dancing at my apartment. I also did a lot of physical work in my jobs so my body was constantly getting the deep pressure and physical activity it needed to help my mind stay calm. I was much more social and had a group of about 10 friends, only about three I was close to. Two guys were my best friends, well I was the closest to them for several years of my life, they both had girlfriends so I felt no threat and then one girl who I was fond of but would not categorize a best friend.
They made sure that I did not shut down and lock myself away from people.
We were constantly doing outdoor activities and I even got involved in several sports because of them. I played softball, volley ball, soccer and basketball because of them. I admit that I did enjoy myself as long as I didn’t get the competitive spirit burning in my veins, it is genetic in my family. Mostly I was able to just have fun and not worry about if I messed up or anything. They were a very good group of friends for me and helped stay active during some pretty hard times. Again all of the physical helped me mentally along with my emotional state.
When I moved back to my home town, I got rid of my bike.
I missed having a bike but did not get one again until a year and half ago. I am extremely happy to have a bike back in my life because it helps me so much both physically and mentally. In 1999 when I quit smoking, I started to work out on a regular basis. I do not like going to gyms or in groups of people so I used workout videos. I still do this, I have a ton of workout DVD’s, I do not buy the infomercial ones, except one Pilate set. I do not like to run, my dad’s side of the family are runners, addicted to running. I am afraid that I would do that too. They are into triathlon and marathons, they are serious about their running.
Why do I share all of this?
I share because exercise is very important to those who have problems with their vestibular system or other sensory issues. I feel the difference when I do not do something to help myself, I go in cycles where I do not want to do anything but sit around. I feel so tired and drained but if I do not do a little something like go for a walk I feel my anxiety or dizziness start to kick in. I am still prone to running into walls and doors. As an adult I have given myself a few black eyes, I am serious, from running into doors. I have bruised my arms and legs from walls. Daniel has the same issue. He will fall, run into things, trip, fall off of the couch, I have to help him get proper exercise to help him.
When the weather changes we feel it.
I will get heightened vertigo symptoms if the pressure changes and Daniel seems to as well but I haven’t been able to ask the right question to find out for sure. When I do my workouts, things like an exercise ball helps a lot as well for all of us, my vertigo symptoms drop drastically. I can dance and spin without a problem but I do have to be careful around flashing lights or fast-moving visual things. Personally, I do all kinds of workouts but I do have my favorites and I cycle through them depending on how I am feeling and how far I feel I can push my body. I will not add bike riding here because I ride my bike for fun and processing information. I do ride crazy fast sometimes but it is because I love the breeze on my face and the feel of the going fast while being embraced by the air. I enjoy the sky and looking at nature while on my bike.
Ok, ok I got all excited, here are my top five exercises.
- Ballet Workouts (I have a set from the New York Ballet that I love!)
- Yoga (I tried this before but wasn’t into it, this past year though I have given it another chance and I am enjoying it.)
- Circuit training
Updated 2014 Top Five Exercises
- Cycling (spin class)
I find it interesting that with the changes in the workouts that I do the more self-esteem I feel. There is something about feeling stronger and seeing different results in my body that has made me feel a bit stronger emotionally – maybe it’s testosterone??? I still the above workouts, not Zumba so much anymore. The circuit training is basically what I do in bootcamp only now it is called HIIT or W.O.D. (Workout for the day – yes, I laughed uncontrollably when I first saw the word. It made me laugh it sounds funny.)
I like to use dance videos with the kids because they are working out but having so much fun at the same time.
- Sensory Integration Activities
- Vestibular Activities
- Vestibular System & Balance Board Exercises
- Possible symptoms of vestibular issues