Balance, and Vision Blinds Us

Vision blinds us?

I awake, again, to a nice warm cat on my feet, a large warm dog huddled up to my side, and a wood stove needing attention. What’s new!

vision makes us blind
Boy, Willbe, Cat and I would freeze pretty quickly in our tiny house without this little wood stove.

I go outside, one step away, to a world that is quiet and dark, with Orion’s belt overhead. I’ve enjoyed my morning tea, two cups, several hours ago. I step back into the growing warmth of our cosy little house, stand at the window, and do my routine balance exercise.

Standing, feet together, eyes closed.

Listening! I hear them all.

Those amazing balance sensors: somatic, inner ear, soles of my feet.

  • Somatic – pressure on muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints, as my body sways around that straight line of gravity (straight or bending around time?) extending from outer space, through my body, to the center of the Earth.
  • Inner ear – the magic machinery of those semicircular canals, that tell me I’m upright and moving around gently, as my feet and ankles correct my center of gravity, with barely detectable muscle contractions and relaxations.
  • Soles of my feet – thousands of mechanoreceptors detect local pressure, vibration and shear, to tell my brain, maybe not even my brain, perhaps only local proprioceptive pathways that pass through my spinal cord, to fine tune my position in space. Sensors to nerves to cord to nerves to muscles, adjusting their local tension. You can enhance this sense with some magic socks that I recommend (my only affiliate activity, because they work), especially to those with balance problems, but listening is essential.

Then I open my eyes to see the stars, and I’m suddenly blind. My other senses of balance are overwhelmed by my powerful sense of vision. My mind automatically selects a light across the way, and locks in like a laser-guided missile. I immediately sway less, my stance is more solid, less fluid, less of a physical dance.

My body becomes more rigid.

Our powerful sense of vision blinds us to the myriad of other balance systems in our bodies.

I close my eyes. I’m back with my soma, my inner ear, my feet. If feels like coming home.

Thank goodness.

This is how you train for aging, the ultimate endurance sport – you hone your senses.

Take off your shoes, close your eyes, stand there and listen.

Wishing you happy balancing,

kev aka FitOldDog

vision blinds us
Grey is muscle, white is fat, clear ring around the central white spot (bone marrow) is the femoral bone.

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.