After last week’s session with Rachel, my performance in riding the unicycle has drastically improved. Not only have I been turning to the left with relative ease, but I have made substantial progress in turning to the right; an immense struggle I've been having. The progress I made with turning was mostly from the new strategy my friend demonstrated to me last week. While mounted on my unicycle, I lined up next to a 4-foot wall and placed both hands on top.
I used my upper body to stabilize my trunk and assist in turning my chest in the opposite direction. One hand stayed placed on the wall next to me while the other arm horizontally abducted to grab the wall behind me, opening up my chest and initiating the turn towards the opposite direction. My hip and knees then quickly rotated the unicycle beneath me to change directions and regain normal alignment/posture between my upper and lower body. This helped with the coordination and sequencing of motion between my upper and lower body, a component that is critical to turning on the unicycle.
I practiced doing this in both directions for around 20 minutes before moving away from the wall. Once confident to move away from the wall, I practiced turning to the left, attempting to outline a square with my wheel. I focused on looking and pointing my chest in the direction I wanted to move to and then quickly rotated my hips and knees to make a sharp perpendicular turn. My arms remained out to help maintain equilibrium in my posture but also assisted with the turn by providing a quick rotational movement.
I realized that I had been making a mistake earlier on in my training. Before adopting this new strategy, I would turn by leaning in the direction I wanted to move. Not only was this making my turns much wider, but it had a more drastic change to my COM. The more I would lean to one direction, the more I felt my body having to correct in the opposite direction to prevent me from falling. In addition to this, I fatigued quicker as more postural muscles and hip strategy were needed to complete the movement. With this new turning strategy, my COM does not deviate as much compared to when I lean; as it relatively stays over the wheel.
Although there is some deviation, I felt it was implicitly easier to maintain my balance and required less postural muscles to be activated. Once I began pointing my chest and making quick movements with my hip and knees in the direction I wanted to move, I felt my muscles were conserving more energy. In addition, I completed the turn quicker which improved the efficiency of the turn. The more I practiced this throughout the week, the better my upper and lower body seemed to work together in a more coordinated manner, making it easier to complete turns.
After a while, I practiced turning to the right which, to no surprise, took more time to figure out. I had problems rotating my hips and knees to the right quickly, which is most likely due to a coordination issue in my lower body on that side. I am more comfortable turning to the left but realize the importance of practicing right-handed turns as I know I need to be able to turn left and right to avoid obstacles, change directions, and adjust to any other environmental changes. I started to practice this strategy before every training session and immediately noticed an improvement in my riding. When I started to ride for longer distances, I was able to make quick turns in both directions while maintaining stability.