Are you uncoordinated? How exercise can help your coordination.Fit School, fitness, running, Pilates, Epping
How’s your coordination?
No we aren’t talking matchy matchy fashion. We’re talking an ability for your neural pathways to connect stimulus to movement and to repeat it.
Some people will tell us they are uncoordinated or believe they are uncoordinated.
If you faced issues when you were learning to crawl or walk or even write, these may have stemmed from a lack of coordination. Some people have what is known as dyspraxia and face an uphill challenge for anything related to coordination. These challenges you face can affect your ability to play sport, instruments or even navigate through life. People who have issues with coordination need complex tasks breaking down and more time spent grinding in the move. The great news is you can improve coordination quite quickly if you know what to do.
Even without dyspraxia, you may feel uncoordinated in certain situations. A dance or aerobics class for example or when learning a sport. If you didn’t learn these skills as a child it’s likely you’ll find them more difficult to master as an adult.
But there’s always progress to be made. YES you will be at a disadvantage in sports if you didn’t learn basic jumping, throwing, catching or bike riding movement patterns as a child. Childhood is absolutely THE best time to learn those things. But you can make progress as an adult. I’m testimony to that. Do you remember my recent post about not wanting to play tennis (when I actually did)? I did play tennis as a teenager at school but we’re talking one lesson a week in a class of 30 where little progress was made. I’m not from a sporty family. So whilst it might take me an hour to understand and achieve a concept that I know Chris (undefeated Blackburn and Darwen Badminton champion 92-94) would pick up in a few hits, it is possible.
*BORING BIT* Coordination is about movement patterns. If you don’t have a basic movement pattern right and then add load or volume to the faulty movement pattern, not only do you not progress but you’ll train in. Pilates is a really good example of this. Start to extend the legs out too far on a double leg stretch before you’ve mastered what needs to be going on in your trunk and your back will take the strain. Take this phenomenon to a higher impact activity like running or bootcamp style classes and the results may be more than a little back strain.
This is the biggie!
‘I’ve started running again/increased my distance/increased my running days and …’
Whether it’s a recurring injury like a niggly knee or hip, co-ordination has probably got a part to play in the injury.
Let’s say you’ve never run before. You didn’t run at school and you weren’t sporty. But you get older and you really want to run so you try Couch to 5K. We love C25K and getting moving but if you have a low athletic base, starting with running before you’ve got the co-ordination part sorted is a recipe for getting stuck at around week 3! In baking terms it’s like trying to make a roulade before you’ve mastered a basic Victoria sponge.
Or how about a bootcamp or HIIT session? Online versions of these have been understandably popular during lockdown. They’re freely available and accessible. Whilst you may get a gut busting workout, will you have developed any skills from the class? In Chris’ PE classes, he’ll always make people stop and think about what they’re doing during the session. Participants learn a sequence then have to repeat it. They still get the gut busting workout but they’ve come away with a skill. Let’s call it ‘intellectual training’! It’s a way of training body, neurons and brain simultaneously. It takes a lot more skill than repeatedly flipping a tyre or performing endless kettlebell swings.
How do you walk down the stairs? Do you always lead with the same leg?
How about getting up off the floor. Are you comfortable getting up with either leg as the lead leg?
Without training, our movement patterns reduce as we age. Without exercise and coordination we literally reduce the scope and range of our movement. It’s a time of life when we absolutely need to move more rather than less. This is why co-ordination needs to be a vital part of your training as you get older. Learning a new skill like a sport is a brilliant way to do this but so is attending classes that include basic skills like dance moves or even Pilates sequences. In our Anti-Ageing fitness class there are skills we learn in each class and repeat. It’s a way of building those movement patterns and co-ordination into a fun movement class.
There are also massive cerebral benefits to learning new skills and new movement patterns. Earlier this year I researched a feature for Simply You magazine which was all about Super Agers (people who seem to be 20 years younger in their 80s). The key to being a super ager, is an eagerness to learn new skills and continually work those neural pathways. Here’s an excerpt:
Cognitive Super Agers
The team of scientists, led by neurologist Dr Bradford Dickerson found that the key to cognitive super ageing lay in a willingness to take on new mental challenges. Cognitive super agers were less likely to give up and wanted to continue to challenge themselves than their non super ager counterparts. Learning new skills like a language or how to play an instrument has a positive effect on both brain tissue and brain function.
So whilst all movement is better than no movement, considering the co-ordination side of training is like the cream in your perfect roulade.