Slackline Your Way to Better Balance

Dr. E demonstrates his newfound love of slacklining.

I took up slacklining last summer. My first attempt produced what I call “Elvis Leg,” where even the slightest foot pressure on the line caused my leg to shake uncontrollably. It seemed impossible, like there was no way I would ever achieve the steadiness of the slackliners I had seen practising at the beach days before.

Yet I kept at it, hoisting myself onto the line and falling off, over and over again.

Eventually, my body stabilized over my wobbly foot, and there I was—steady on the line, eyes focused far in front of me, overcome with an exhilarating feeling of balance, like the only thing in the world was the line and my body hanging in space.

I practised in 15-minute intervals a couple of times each week, and by about week four I was able to balance myself slowly along, shakily, inching forward about 25 feet before falling off. After that, I was able to turn myself around, and even move backwards.

And just like that, I was hooked.

The Benefits of Slacklining

Aside from the feelings of exhilaration and accomplishment, slacklining offers some pretty amazing health benefits.

  1. Focused attention & mindfulness ~ a rarity in this era of smartphones, devices and endless distractions.
  2. Balance ~ Try doing a yoga tree pose before slacklining, and then do one afterwards.  You’ll suddenly feel much more stable and balanced, because your body has “clicked in” to its alignment.  You’ll probably even be able to do it with your eyes closed.  Trust me.
  3. And my favourite, Kinesthesia ~ Slacklining promotes an increased awareness of your body in space. It enhances nerve-firing patterns in the ankle, knee and hip joints, which is incredibly healthy for the joints and the brain.

Inspiration

Try watching Man on Wire, a 2008 documentary about Philippe Petit’s famous (and illegal) tightrope high wire routine performed between the World Trade Towers in 1974.  It’s astounding!

How to Get Started

It’s easy! I bought my slacklining kit at True Outdoors in Vernon for about $80. It’s easy to set up and can be done anywhere. All you need are two sturdy trees, a dash of patience, and my favourite trait: tenacity.

By Dr. Elliot Lysyk, DC

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