Print Edition: June 17, 2015
No, UFV hasn’t started offering a major in tightrope walking. It’s a slackline — a taut, flat rope used as a balancing exercise.
“It’s a perfect set-up here,” said Radoslav Detchev, a kinesiology major, who strung his slackline between two trees on the Green for some fun before his afternoon class. “Usually I get people just jumping on and trying it.”
Although it may look easy, it’s not — the slackline sways, bounces, and stretches with the wind and the walker’s body weight.
“Usually when people step on it, it just shakes from side to side with no stabilizing control,” explains Detchev. “So when you practice keeping your balance straight and stiff, all your stabilizing muscles are firing on and off.”
Variations on the portable and increasingly popular sport including slackline yoga, trick slacklining, and “highlining” (balancing on a slackline at high elevation). Many users, like Detchev, bounce or even perform flips on the line. The difficulty varies depending on the line’s height and how taut it is.
“Today it’s pretty low, but usually when I set it up at bouncing height people don’t want to step on it,” said Detchev.
Although you might get some scrapes and bruises if you set the line too high or don’t have soft ground to land on, slacklining is a worthwhile exercise for anyone looking to improve their balance, tighten their core, and strengthen their knees and ankles.
“I just ran the half-marathon for Run for Water,” said Detchev. “My knees and ankles really hurt … but movement helps recovery, so as far as I’m concerned this is helping.”
With files from Kodie Cherrille.