Introduction to slacklining

Put some slack into your life and regain your balance

Like many good things, the slackline came to me through a friend’s recommendation. I was having issues with my balance. Nothing major, but annoying enough to notice. A wobble here and there, a fizz of vertigo, unexplained dizziness. Next, I could no longer stand on one leg to put on a shoe. Hopscotching from one river rock to another, or using a fallen log for a footbridge, I would invariably end up getting wet.

Balance goes with age, my friend, a body therapist and martial arts practitioner told me, and we all have a choice to either let it deteriorate or to arrest the fall. The latter was best done with exercises and slackline was the preferred tool. The good news was that it was all more fun than hard work.

Slackline is like a tightrope only that, well, it is not tight, and it is not a rope but a length of webbing, most commonly either 50 mm or 25 mm wide. You string it between two trees, posts or other solid anchors – even between tow bars of two vehicles – tension it just so, and then you try to stand up on it and walk.

Of course, it is impossible, at least it feels like it. The line wobbles out of control and it throws you off like a catapult. Then, when you’re just about to give up, a minor miracle occurs: you manage to stand on the line for a few seconds. A couple days later you take the first baby step, then another, then you learn to walk backwards. After a month or so you begin to think: how can I turn around on this thing?

“So what?” I hear you say. Why bother with such circus stunts? Well, here’s the secret. After you’ve trained your body to walk on this piece of nothing coming back to the ground, walking on earth, feels like a joyful dance. Easy, whether you’re walking a city footpath or a mountain goat trail.  Continue reading