Balance 101 on Boats – Free Your Feet

November 13, 2011

Your balance is key to walking and climbing around on unstable docks, dinghies, and boats in motion. Master yoga instructor Charlotte Clews gives us a few foot exercises that will instantly help your balance, as well as your health.

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Charlotte Clews & Wild Open Heart

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17 Responses So Far to “Balance 101 on Boats – Free Your Feet”:

  1. Avatar William Fanning says:

    Thanks again Charlotte! Another great yoga for boating post. And I’m taking this to my men’s yoga class too!

  2. Antonio (Tony) Osse Antonio (Tony) Osse says:

    Always fun and informative videos guys!! Please find a way to help us, boatsanders, I mean, boatbuilders, to avoid shoulder tendinitis from sandind 12 hours a day!! :)

  3. Avatar Paul Bould says:

    Wonerfull! Getting younger by the day, an I´m over 70.

  4. Avatar Geoffrey Genther says:

    Spent most of my summers barefoot as a kid. Lots of slivers and cuts. But had a great time on the beaches and mud flats and running in the woods. By the end of summer the bottom of my feet were like shoe leather. No regrets and no damage to my feet.

  5. Avatar Mal Botterill says:

    How many times did Steve do a backflip during this shoot? Seriously though great info hope it works with my arithicit and vintage back.

  6. Steve Stone Steve Stone says:

    I totally understand and respect the sage advice of professionals in the Coast Guard and medical fields on the value of wearing shoes for protection, and as I get further afield from communication and self-rescue I get more conservative in my safety habits.

    But I’m going to put a voice in here for the benefits of bare feet. It’s something I’ve changed my thinking on. Here’s why:

    For me, one of life’s great pleasures is feeling the warm grass, beach sand, rough granite, and cushy moss beneath my feet. It’s one of the great treats of being on Maine’s islands, and feeling what’s around me more fully. Happiness is so UNmeasurable, but going barefoot on Maine’s islands actually made me happier, as if it was measurable.

    After growing up in the suburbs, so well-protected from the natural elements that I rarely felt them, I’m trying to transition to a life where I can feel those elements more. I find most kids, including mine, are growing up in too-protective bubbles these days, and so I find myself needing to fight my temptation to overprotect them while out in boats as well. Last summer my son asked if he could walk down a stream in the North Woods. I looked up and saw a mine-field of jagged rocks and slippery footing. “No”, I jumped to say… but I paused, and said: “Sure.” And watched closely. Five minutes later he’d jammed a broken-off branch stub two inches into his leg. Stupid dad? Smart dad? I don’t know. But it healed fine and he’s more cautious now. Had he slipped and hit his head, it would have been a different story.

    While shooting this video, I watched Eric’s great surprise as he felt his feet become active/alive and grab the dock. I felt this too when I did these exercises, it felt like it broke loose years of rigidity, and it was a big mindset transition in 15 minutes. I felt that I’d been missing a lot by having shoes on all the time. Here’s a little post I wrote — Barefoot August — on the less tangible benefits I found in going barefoot for a month. For island-hopping, I like to be barefoot, but I have a great pair of reef shoes always within reach in my ditty bag and I almost always grab them when landing on beaches unless it’s easy conditions and I’ve landed there before and know the bottom. This may well land me in the doctor’s office with who knows what jammed deep in my foot, but the enjoyment I have feeling the water and land more intimately in the meantime will be worth the trade-off.

  7. Avatar Robert hatcher says:

    There are lots of reasons not to go barefoot. Among them is the significant increase in foreign body wounds. As a foot surgeon for the last 38 years, I’ve taken out a bucket load of stuff from peoples feet. You name it, if it has a sharp point, I’ve removed it. I’ve even removed a knitting needle. My question to the patients is always the same. “If you had been wearing shoes, would you be here today?” You might be able to guess their answer.
    More concerning to me is the neuropathy issue which provides another layer of complexity to a foreign body puncture. Because of the lack of feeling these patients have, they are frequently unaware that they have stepped on something. By the time we see these patients they often have infections which require surgery or ,at best, long term antibiotics and disability.
    The best treatment for these problems is really prevention – just wear shoes except when you are in the shower!
    Bob Hatcher

  8. Avatar John Wujack says:

    With all due respect, I concur with the Coast Guard’s recommendation and do not allow active passengers to go bare foot on my boat and more importantly, around wooden docks and remote, unknown beaches.. The need for quick, surefooted movement is better promised with a well engineered, “slip-proof” boat shoe/water shoe. A compromise might be those silly-looking shoes with toes, but who wants to take the time to sort their toes getting dressed? I certainly wouldn’t go barefoot in a foundry, workshop. Drop an anchor or chain on bare feet? Sunburn? Broken glass? No thanks. The marginal benefit doesn’t outweigh the risk.

  9. Avatar Arthur Maroney says:

    U S Coast Guard, as I understand it, is anti bare feet on a boat due to the high risk of injury from the many obstacles aboard. Not a bad idea to ask their opinion at their academy in Connecticut where they have given Safety At Sea seminars.

  10. Avatar Richard Sink says:

    My feet feel great,thanks.

  11. Avatar William Lavender says:

    Thank you Charlotte! My feet feel great now!

  12. Avatar Jon Gibney says:

    I have neuropathy in both feet, a side effect of chemotherapy. Will yoga help with this or just cause further nerve degeneration? I’m 71 years old and a cancer survivor.

    • Avatar Richard Williamson says:

      Jon, I just saw your post. I too am a cancer survivor. Had chemo in 1997. Among other side effects – neuropathy in both feet. it affected my balance everywhere, boat, basketball court (when I could still play in old farts league- 60 in a couple of months). The loss of balance due to chemo neuropathy was quite shocking. However, the answer is – YES yoga and other repetitive exercises will help. From my experience, you can relearn balance – to a point. Also, the neuropathy may lessen over time as some nerve pathways seem to regenerate (or you get used to it). Chemo neuropathy is not well understood by Docs and a VERY frustrating side effect of chemo treatment

  13. Avatar Stephen Burne says:

    I feel like a new bulb has just been lit. Having Parkinson’s disease has kept me from being at ease on our floating docks and boats. Yoga has helped, but these foot exercises will make a huge difference… Thank you!

  14. Avatar Warren A. Wheaton says:

    Who’da thunk it! Great info, Ms. Clews. Thanks!

  15. Avatar Tom Morris says:

    I’m glad that no one else had arrived at the office this morning when I watched this video – how can you poison this site with those knuckleheads in a plastic dinghy?

    • Avatar Steve Stone says:

      Members, let us introduce you to Tom. He’s a friend with a plastic dinghy and a twisted sense of humor. Look for it/him throughout the site. Beware, slightly…

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