These simple co-ordination exercises can not only improve your co-ordination but they can also improve your brain function and ease of learning…
There are indications that major nervous system development and organisation occurs during your first five years of life and that any impairment during this period will dramatically affect this development and lead to reduced coordination.
In the early months of life your movement is unilateral or ‘same sided’. That is, the arm and leg on the same side of the body extend and flex together to create movement, so that when your right arm moves forward so does your right leg. At about six months of age you develop a cross crawl pattern where the opposite arm and leg flex and extend together. So that when your right arm moves forward your left leg does. This cross crawl pattern is correct coordination and you will use this for the rest of your life unless it becomes impaired.
It is estimated that 25% of the population have a cross crawl problem.
As well as cross crawling, at about three years of age you develop cortical hemispheric dominance. That is, one side of the body becomes the dominant, controlling side. This dominance usually begins with your left or right hand preference, followed by eye, foot and ear dominance. This dominance is unique to humans and is fully developed by five to eight years of age. This dominance is part of correct development of the nervous system and should not be interfered with.
There can be a tendency for adults to over-encourage children to crawl, walk and self-feed too early. This can cause poor development of the nervous system which is so necessary for the later development of motor coordination. All children develop at different rates and need to be allowed to progress through developmental stages without interference.
One school of thought suggests that children who crawl the longest suffer the least coordination problems, and children who crawl for only a short period experience more problems. Child-walkers may reduce the crawling time of many children and thus cross crawling may not be properly developed.
Adults may also have impaired coordination. You may have progressed through your developmental stages into adulthood and not be aware that your coordination tends toward same sided coordination. You may feel as though you walk, run and perform other activities correctly, however, when given directions such as being told to turn left you may turn right and when asked to lie on your back you may lie on your front. Doing exercises such as star jumps and breastroke swimming confuse your nervous system and reduce your coordination capabilities, to such an extent that you can become same sided in your coordination. This then impairs your activities whether it be at home, in the office or playing sport.
But how can having same-sided coordination impair performance in the office?
As we know the right hand side of the brain predominantly controls creativity and the left hand side of the body whilst the left hemisphere of the brain controls logic and the right hand side of the body. If we have same-sided cordination, it can indicate that we are using one side of the brain at a time. In the office you may be able to think logically or creatively but you may have trouble thinking logically and creatively at the same time.
Coordination exercises can not only improve your coordination. They can help encourage your brain to think logically and creatively at the same time.
How to Test If You Have a Coordination problem and How to Correct It
With a friends help to initiate your start, begin marching when they say. The time it takes you to begin marching is one of the first indicators whether you have a coordination problem. Your friend then directs you when to stop and start marching at different intervals, three or four times. Your ability to stop and start again quickly, and to maintain correct marching by using your opposite arm to leg will determine whether you are ‘switched’ to same sided coordination. Those with a coordination problem at same stage in this exercise switch from using opposite arm and leg to using the same side arm and leg.
Correction and maintenance of correct coordination is simply by exercises which encourage cross crawl patterns. Here are three different exercises for a couple of minutes, twice a day to improve your coordination and brain function.
1.Marching on the spot raising one arm and the opposite knee simultaneously. (Try hitting your knee with the opposite hand)
2.Punching the air while raising the opposite knee.
3.Lying on your back, raise your arm and opposite leg simultaneously.(Keep your head still and have your eyes follow your raising arm)