Ex. 1: When standing still, I feel the weight of my body maintained at two locations: the balls of my feet and inside of my heel. This is based on the orientation of my feet, which splay outward. My knees bend slightly, and are the primary way that I seem to make adjustments to my balance; as my body slightly sways forward and back (seemingly caused by my breathing), my knees flex slightly, and change the triangular relationship between kneecap, heel and the balls of my feet. When I open my eyes, I’m surprised to see that my vision is unaware of these movements, automatically making the micro-adjustments necessary to maintain a steady gaze.
Concentrating on my other senses, I only notice a slight shifting of my hearing acuity from one ear to the other as balance points change. It isn’t drastic, but noticeable when I concentrate on the matter.
Ex. 2: When standing on one foot, my ankle is activated, as is the entire foot. With a new dimension to balance-keeping (since the lateral stability is gone), my ankle loosens and is constantly shifting, attempting to maintain control. The entire foot is now active as well, with the outside crescent of the foot called into service to make a more stable base. I also feel the tendons in my lower leg working hard to allow the ankle to move but not buckle.
Ex. 3: Walking is a whole-body function. From the swinging of the arms (which reminds me of the Seinfeld sketch about Molly Shannon and Raquel Welch not swinging their arms while walking), to the rotation of the torso, tension and release of the tendons of the knees and the flexing/stiffening of the ankles. I find that my foot “rolls” through the walk, taking the initial impact at the heel, pausing slightly, then releasing though the outside of my foot until propelled off the balls of my feet. I find, though, that as I concentrate on certain aspects of walking, they become uncomfortable and unnatural, leading me to questions if I’m “doing it right”.
Ex. 4: Slowing down with the walk was very difficult, because as the pace slows, many of the mechanisms for balance become ineffective. The arm-swing/torso-twist is no longer useful, because it causes all sorts of balance issues. The same is true with the rolling action through the foot; the natural rhythm that occurs during walking is impossible to time-stretch, because it can be painful to leave pressure on some of these spots for any length of time. Also, since my knees are shot, they don’t respond in the same was as during my normal walk; they are not fluid in motion, and instead lock up at crucial parts of the exercise.
Ex. 5: Walking backwards is a very strange feeling, and causes an increase in the use of more senses. I notice that I’m more aware of the sounds of the environment – as if I’m trying to sense out nearby obstacles. I also notice that I lead with my heels almost as if they were “feelers”, reaching forward without a lot of force, making sure that the way is clear.
I also notice that my pressure center has changed on my foot. I’m up on my heels – partially because the “searching” function of my heel is causing me to spend more time on one foot, and also because I’m leaning forward to try to limit collision. There is little in the way of upper body activity – my attention and movement is all focused lower-body, and my senses are all focused on my heel and the back of my calf in an attempt to immediately avert any perceived collisions. This is an extremely different sensory experience than walking forward.