Tightrope Walking Exercises
If you're looking for a new way to challenge your balance, posture and core strength, the answer can be as simple as a piece of rope, wire or nylon. Walking a tightrope or slackline -- made of nylon or polyester webbing that is tied looser than a traditional hemp or wire tightrope -- can be a novel way to exercise. Aim to practice for at least 20 minutes a session for best results.
All you need to get started is a tightrope or slackline and two trees or anchors set about 15 to 25 feet apart. It can take incredible concentration just to walk forward on a tightrope. Stretch or shake out your arms and legs before you get on the tightrope to release tension. Instead of keeping your eyes on your feet or the rope, look straight ahead. If you look at the ground, Slackline Express recommends looking at least 15 feet in front of you. Keep your knees slightly bent and take small steps.
To improve your walking, practice balancing on one foot at a time, sticking your opposite foot out to the side. Walking this way, instead of one foot straight in front of the other, is easier and a good way to get started. If you start to lose your balance, sticking one foot out to the side can actually help you regain your balance. Once you have a handle on walking, you can further challenge your balance by folding your arms.
Turn around by carefully turning your feet sideways, pausing to regain your balance, and then turning them to face a new direction. Eventually you'll be able to turn around in a fluid motion. You can also try walking backward; keep your eyes focused straight ahead and step back ,one foot behind another, centering the weight on the middle of the ball of your foot and then transferring it to your heel. Keep your arms lifted to your sides to keep yourself stable.
To feel the tightrope more acutely, you should ideally be barefoot. If you wear shoes, they should be tightly laced and thin-soled. Skate shoes work well. You can practice your tightrope exercises without a tightrope. Fitness magazine recommends using a curb or fallen tree that has an even surface and is at least 6-feet long. Raise your arms to the sides and walk near the edge as if you were walking on a tightrope, one foot directly in front of the other.
When you're first starting out, you should tie your tightrope no higher than 4 feet off the ground. You should ideally have a soft pad or grass to land on and a spotter or two to help you keep your balance so you don't fall. If you do fall, try to roll rather than brace yourself on impact. Your tightrope should be tied so that it is secure and stable. Avoid getting your tightrope wet, as it will become slippery and may rot.
Michelle Wishhart is a writer based in Portland, Ore. She has been writing professionally since 2005, starting with her position as a staff arts writer for City on a Hill Press, an alternative weekly newspaper in Santa Cruz, Calif. An avid gardener, Wishhart worked as a Wholesale Nursery Grower at Encinal Nursery for two years. Wishhart holds a Bachelor of Arts in fine arts and English literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz.