If music is my first great love, it is closely followed by my love of good food.
I have been learning to cook Indian Cuisine for nearly 40 years. I say learning, as I am not close to mastering the intricacies of this beautiful cuisine.
One thing I have learned well over the years is that the balance of ingredients is fundamental to a really pleasing meal. It is easy for one spice to overwhelm others, or for one dish to dominate, ruining the intricate process by which the various components of a meal come together to form a complimentary whole. For example, the amount of cumin, garlic, ginger or chilli you use can completely change the flavour of a lentil dahl. And if you’re aiming for a dahl that compliments other, spicier dishes, like a madras type curry, for example, you’re going to want to go easy on the chilli and ginger.
Although it may seem a stretch to compare human balance to too much ginger in one’s dahl, I do see a connection here with human balance. (And it may be becoming increasingly evident that I bring my whole self, including my love of good food, to my approach to physiotherapy.) To me, human physical function is all about balance. Just as with cooking, too much of one thing will inevitably compromise another: too much work on one set of muscles and not its opposite group, too much cardio and not enough flexibility, too much of any exercise routine without rest and stretches: all of this will lead to strain or injury.
Looking more closely at the human balance system itself it is also clear that balance is affected and altered by multiple factors. Our eyes, our proprioception*, our vestibular system, our strength and flexibility, our muscle tone and control all work together to enable us to balance effectively. It is a finely tuned system which incorporates everything we have learned from being small. Changes in any one of these areas can occur if we are injured or have a chronic disease, or are just getting older: our balance system can become compromised, putting us at risk for falls. The good news is that well designed exercise routines will always incorporate specific balance work, as well as guidance about achieving a balanced approach to rest and activity.
My favourite South Indian meal is a vegetarian thali, although these days I don’t cook this one, because the folks at Udupi Palace on Gerrard St. East do it so stupendously well. Their thali is a true testament to delicacy and balance: heat tinged with creamy cool, subtle counterpoints within a robust base, hints of sweetness and dry acid, the various tastes creating a perfect whole. Just like the thali, the best exercise routines will bring new and subtle challenges to existing strengths within a client, it will push the individual to an appropriate limit, and then introduce rest, it will result in the client feeling satisfied, physically charged and ready for more soon.
The ability to sense stimuli arising within the body regarding position, motion, and equilibrium. (MedicineNet)
R. Sian Owen PT