How MoveSMART® helps people become well-balanced

Want to be more even and stable this year? Move away from being a pushover or easily disrupted? Using MoveSMART® principles and techniques can help you lead a more balanced life.

Balance is an interesting word. Many peg this to a physical state, where your skeletal structure is poised to keep you upright and your muscles have to work/tense as little as possible to “fight” gravity.

In addition, we also associate balance with someone’s frame of mind and emotions (mentally stable, balanced personality, well-grounded, even tempered or vs. unbalanced, flighty, up-and-down, pushover, uptight).

But what does being well-balanced really do for you?

o Gives you greater control and readiness for the unexpected. The more balanced you are, the more likely you’ll be able to respond and recover to unexpected forces coming at you from any direction. This means that, as you’re moving, something that pushes against you is more likely to move you as a single unit (not as easily tipped forward or back). Sort of like a baby in a walker that has wheels all around; pushing the walker from any direction helps the baby move, but not fall.

o More relaxed, less tension. Being well-balanced is a state of lower physical energy (compared to being tense). The more balanced I am, the more likely my shoulders are to be down and relaxed. From my experience, this physical state translates into less likely to being startled when surprised by unexpected forces (physical or even verbal). Hence, improved control.

Lowered/”dropped” shoulders typically means less neck and shoulder tension buildup.

o More alert – Relaxed shoulders means you can breathe deeper. Try this – raise your shoulders and see what happens to your breathing – more difficult to breathe deep into your abdomen? When you’re not getting full oxygen intake, the first part of your body that is affected is your brain (your decision-making, “Safety” organ). So, more balanced = lowered shoulders = deeper breathing = being calmer and more alert.

o More usable strength. The more balanced you are the less you’re having to employ extra muscle tension. For example, if someone is 10% off-balance, they’re using, more or less, 10% extra muscle tension to prevent themselves from falling over. This means they have approximately 10% less available muscle strength to do whatever they want to do (breaking down a nut, lifting, hitting a ball, etc).

Look for several opportunities to practice your balance. And as a MoveSMART® Instructor-Catalyst, encourage others to do the same. (Depending on which of the 4 MoveSMART® modules you’ve been trained, you may know of only some of these MoveSMART® principles/techniques. But even if you aren’t familiar with all I’m referring to below, you can apply those that “ring” for you):

  1. When walking on wet or muddy surfaces, leaves, ice or snow, remember to put extra bend in your knees and feel your feet making good contact with the ground. Feel yourself “beginning to sit” a bit as you walk. Also curl your Power Fingers even when there’s nothing in your hands. (If you’ve been trained in our Balance module) Front Foot Drive helps you cross especially slippery patches. 45 degree walking (a variation of side stepping) is effective on ladders, coming off escalators, moving walkways in airports, or crossing rainy or leaf covered ground.
  1. Maintain your natural alignment (with your upper body over your lower body – don’t lean forward or back), so you can better push (your neighbor’s stalled car, shopping carts, etc). Also use your Line Of Power and Mental SuperGlue for Power Pushing
  1. Develop your Center Of Balance in every activity you do. Many disciplines (martial arts and others) emphasize developing greater power by cultivating the Center Of Balance. You can best improve your technique by paying attention to what’s going on inside of you. When you’re walking, carrying, or sitting, adjust your stance and posture so that you can actually feel the weight of your upper body transferring through the center of your hips.

There’s much more to being balanced than this, of course. But MoveSMART® methods – in all 4 of our current modules – can help you and others live and work with greater balance and control.

Robert Pater

Let us know of your successes (or challenges) in transferring MoveSMART® strategies and techniques to those you work with. You can contact me via email at:

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