5 exercises to improve coordination

CCoordination, the ability to execute complex, controlled body movements smoothly and without excessive effort, is important for everyone, not just serious athletes or Beyoncé backup dancers. Why? Because it makes life easier. “If she has good coordination, she’s more likely to perform daily tasks more safely and efficiently,” says Molly Frankinburger, DPT, PT, CSCS. “We often think of coordination as just about sports,” she explains, “like being able to throw or hit a ball.” But according to Dr. Frankinburger, there is much more.

When it comes to coordination, there are three main types: hand-eye skills (using the visual system to control movements), fine motor skills (small hand movements like writing and pointing), and gross motor skills (using large muscle groups for walk). , sit, stand, etc.). Good coordination means that you have the ability to execute smooth, precise and controlled actions on all three levels. This involves the proper speed, timing, and direction of specific muscle actions, according to Dr. Frankinburger. So “being well coordinated” is about adjusting your movements based on feedback from multiple body systems, like vision and proprioception (knowing where you are in space).

Dr. Frankinburger points out that many activities of daily living (ADLs) are much more complex, biomechanically speaking, than you might assume. Even something as mundane as doing the dishes is a complex maneuver for the brain and body to perform. “Most of our daily movements involve more than one joint or region of the body, and are inherently variable, based on feedback from our nervous and musculoskeletal systems,” he says, referring to the framework of muscles made up of bones and the brain. connective tissue. .

Think of coordination as your body’s own symphony orchestra. “Our bodies and brains are constantly accepting feedback from multiple systems to produce what seems like unified movement,” says Dr. Frankinburger, “much like the different sections of an orchestra come together under the conductor to produce beautiful music.” One of the best ways to fine tune your instrument (like your body) is by practicing exercises to improve coordination.

“For coordination exercises, you’ll want to focus on repetition and speed of movement,” advises Dr. Frankinburger. “Slowly increase the speed of the movement until you can perform it smoothly and accurately.” He can even break each of the exercises below into parts before trying to coordinate the complex movement as a whole. He tries to do 30 to 50 repetitions of each exercise three to four times a week.

5 exercises to improve coordination

1. Jump rope

“This one is easy to do at home, even if you don’t have a string,” says Dr. Frankinburger. “Just coordinating the movement of your hands with the jumps is a good coordination exercise.”

How it helps: You are combining fine motor skills (the movement of your hands turning the rope) with gross motor skills (jumping).

2. bird dog

Start on all fours with your wrists below your shoulders and your knees below your hips. Raise your right arm and left leg off the ground at the same time, extending them straight and reaching your fingertips as far from your toes as possible. Lower both limbs down and switch sides. That is a repetition.

How it helps: “This alternating motion is very similar to the coordination required for a standing alternate extension of the arms and legs,” says Dr. Frankinburger. “You’re building core stability and capacity for distal motion.” That means big movements that require you to move your limbs away from the center of your body.

3. Standing gait

Start standing with your feet below your hips. Raise your right knee so your thigh is parallel to the floor and hold your breath. Then, lower it back down and switch sides. That is a repetition.

How it helps: “Balance correlates with coordination,” says Dr. Frankinburger. “They are two separate things, but there is overlap between the two. Here, you’re coordinating your movement using hip flexion and core stability, alternating legs.”

4. Overhead squat

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend your arms up. Keeping your torso upright, sit back on your buttocks and bend both knees deeply (pressing them away from each other), lowering the seat toward the floor. Make sure your butt is no lower than your knees, which should be no higher than your toes.

How it helps: Just like standing gait, you are coordinating the movement of your entire body through hip flexion (flexion) and core stability.

5. Walking lunge

Start standing with your feet below your hips. Take a big step forward with your right leg, then deeply bend both knees and come into your lunge. Press down through your front heel and push through your back foot to lift yourself up and step your left leg forward to meet your right. Now repeat with the left leg. That is a repetition. Continue alternating and flip if you run out of room. Just like in the overhead squat, make sure your knees are in line with your second and third toes and don’t collapse inward.

How it helps: “This requires balance, stability, and trunk coordination,” says Dr. Frankinburger.

Last conclusions

Coordination is an essential part of performing everyday movements with ease and avoiding injuries. It’s about speed, agility, and accuracy, whether it’s hand-eye skills (using the visual system to control movements), fine motor skills (small hand movements like writing and pointing), or gross motor skills (using large muscle groups for walking, sitting, standing, etc.).

Ideally, you should practice exercises to improve coordination three or four times a week, because repetition is a key component of building the brain-body connection that good coordination requires.

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