Beam play

Beam play

If someone in an elevator found out I was the "foot guy", told me they have foot pain, sore knees, chronic low back pain and asked me what they should do, I would tell them to start by wearing natural footwear. I would then ask if they are willing to commit to a daily routine and if so, how much time would they be willing to set aside. If they said 5 minutes, I would tell them to balance on a beam every morning for 4 minutes (2 minutes per feet) and then spend a minute writing how they feel in a journal. If they said 2 hours, I would probably tell them to start with 5-10 minutes and build from there.

 

Main points from this little story:

- Switching to natural footwear should always be step 1

- Barefoot beam play is the ultimate way to recalibrate the lower body

- 5 minutes a day done consistently is enough to make huge changes over time

 

When I sat down to write this microdose about beam play, I found it hard to get started. It wasn't because I couldn't think of things to write about, it was because despite being such a simple task, standing barefoot on a balance beam has been an immensely powerful mental and physical training tool for me.

Here are some of the benefits I experience from a short daily dose of barefoot beam play:

- Improved concentration

- Increased creativity

- Improved hip mobility

- Bulletproof ankles

- Bulletproof knees

- No more low back pain

- Increased resilience when playing sports

- Stronger feet

- Improved balance

- A fun, playful active meditation

 
As someone with a busy mind, I used time on a balance beam like meditation training wheels. It was fun, simple, could be done in short bursts and what I especially liked was that I could track my improvement by timing how long I could balance without falling off the beam. Being able to see my improvement in real time was super motivating for me.

When I started using a piece of aluminum tubing in my physiotherapy clinic as a way to assess balance, I realized that the beauty of the screen was that it couldn't be cheated. Patients couldn't cheat or compensate to cover up deficits and that was really valuable to me. When I later used the beam as a playful training tool with patients in clinic, I realized that almost everyone who stepped on the beam started smiling and some even wanted to keep playing on it after my time with them was finished.

The best training routine is the one you're willing and able to do consistently. You can have the "best" series of exercises but if they are boring and feel like a chore, you probably won't do them consistently for very long which automatically makes them ineffective. Training methods only work if you actually do them consistently.

Barefoot beam play is fun, accessible, simple and immensely powerful. I haven't yet found a more effective movement challenge that offers more benefit per unit of time than barefoot time on a beam.

If you want to have more play in your life, train concentration, restore healthy feet, recalibrate your hips, recover from a lower body injury, train bulletproof ankles or forge a body that performs well in your sport, beam play might be the most powerful tool out there.

We take pride in making really high quality balance beams at Sole Freedom which are available for purchase HERE if you want to support our work. You can also create your own DIY beam in a variety of ways including a 2'x4', a branch or simply a piece of tape on the ground.

Here's a 5 minute video I made 3 years ago about making your own DIY beam:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixsa8w4cbXs

 

Thanks for reading and thanks for taking care of yourself. If you know someone struggling with foot, knee or low back pain that might benefit from some daily beam play, share this with them.

Begin your own journey by spending 5 minutes training your balance today. The only wrong way of doing it is if you aren't smiling.

 

Much Love

Nick

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1 comment

Hi guys
I’m interested in purchasing shoes, but not online because I need to wear them and feel them on my feet before I purchase. The website says there is a store in ottawa near my house called SOLE FREEDOM Inside a plaza called Urbandale Plaza. But I’m not able to find this shop. Can you please give me a phone number where I can reach these guys in Ottawa Canada?

Niki

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