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Instep Dance Magazine Articles

Reprints of monthly column as first appearing in Instep Dance Magazine (no longer in print).

March 2002

Staying in Balance

By Rick Allen, DC

"Better health leads to better dancing."

Of all the dances I have learned, Argentine Tango is, in my opinion, the most challenging for staying in balance -- both for yourself and your partner. Before giving pointers for developing better balance and applying it to dancing, let's set the stage by explaining how we maintain our equilibrium or, simply stated, how we stay in balance.

We have a sense of where we are in space and the direction and speed of our movements by the integration of three senses: position and motion from the semicircular canals of the inner ear, position relative to the horizon from our eyes, and position and motion of our joints from receptors, especially at the base of the skull and neck. If these three inputs are not synchronized properly, we experience dizziness or nausea. A common example is sea or motion sickness. It can be far worse!

Inner Ear graphic

I know, from personal experience following ear surgery, how devastating this can be. During the surgery, the tiny crystals that sit on hair cells imbedded in gel in the semicircular canals of my left ear were knocked loose. It felt like I was going over the edge of the Grand Canyon every time I moved my head! It was so bad that I couldn't even stand up! Luckily, the condition was temporary. After about a week the crystals re-implanted themselves properly, the hair cells settled down, and my balance returned to normal. Thank goodness (and God) for this dancin' doc.

A recent PBS special, "Awakening the Brain," documented how a chiropractic neurologist, Dr. Ted Carrick of Logan Chiropractic College, cured a lady who had developed extreme dizziness since her teens. Her problem stemmed from a malfunction of sensory integration. She had been told, "It is all in your head" by a number of doctors and just about given up hope of returning to normal. Not surprisingly, when you consider the systems involved, her cure involved chiropractic adjustment of the upper neck and re-patterning the brain with special eye-balance coordination exercises.

Initiation: Come over to my office in northeast Portland to see the 30-minute PBS special, including Dr. Carrick's other chiropractic neurological miracles!

Next article: Let's explore how we can develop better balance and apply it to dancing and other sports.

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