To get a better understanding of why you would want to do the exercises please have a listen to an ABC (Australia) Podcast  about Neuroplasticity

When mention is made of the 19th century folks who made discoveries of importance that we are only now making sense of, I would include the work of D.D. Palmer and his discovery of the principals behind chiropractic practice.

 

STAND ON ONE LEG

           AND

THROWING A BALL?

WHAT IS THAT ABOUT?

When you stand on one leg

When you decide to do this activity immediately your brain fires up signals. These are sent to the cerebellum or hind brain to plan the action and to see if it is feasible to carry out the plan. Messages are also sent to the leg and the action is coordinated, activating the many muscle groups involved.

Simultaneously, information is sent to the sensory part of the brain and cerebellum to update the progress of the activity. It does this by providing information about joint position and pressure, muscle activity and tendon tension levels. Information also flows in from the balancing mechanisms in the ear, as well as visual cues from the eyes. All of these bits of information are processed and corrections are made so as to keep you upright in spite of what is happening both to you and about you.

Needless to say, that faster you can make adaptive changes the better.

So how do you get faster reactions?

This is really about rebuilding nerve pathways for the activity and control that you have lost.

You do this by using them and exercising by recreating the need for that function.

When you think about it that is why elite athletes and musicians practice. To make their reaction times faster and actions more precise and to make them automatically so thinking is not necessary for even very precise movement.

You remember the old saying "don't use it you lose it" well the reverse is also true. "If you use it you can get it back" to peak levels. Only you can decide if the effort is worth it. As you get older the faster your reaction time the less likelihood of falls and broken bones, sprains and other injuries. Is that worth it? You bet it is. Especially when you consider that often broken hips in the elderly can often result in death within 18 months


Testing
By using a muscle test, it is possible to see if your body is OK about doing simple tasks, such as throwing and catching a ball, or standing on one leg.

If the test shows some form of imbalance while performing these tasks, then often it is a case of simply exercising - doing the same thing over and over till you “get it right”. What we have noticed however is that by introducing another activity that complements the original activity then we can get a much better outcome than by just doing one task on its own.

For instance, while standing on one leg, you can notice the level of muscle activity that it takes to just stand that way. Then try to stand on the other leg and compare the activity levels. Often it is a lot easier to do on one leg than the other or the muscle activity is not as fine in its control of balance as it is on the other leg.



























Most often it is the leg with the less fine control that needs to be exercised. But every so often testing indicates that the other leg is the one to go with. I always go with the muscle test. Your body has an innate knowing/sensing that far exceeds any diagnostic test yet devised. It knows which leg to stand on to sharpen up or reinforce the nerve activity and it also knows through experience, which hand to activate to compliment the standing exercise. So don’t change the exercise till you are ready to go on to the next phase

When you get more comfortable standing on one leg, start to throw the ball in different directions. This activates the need to make greater changes due to alterations in balance.

    Throw higher then lower
    Throw off to the left side
    Throw to the right side
    Better yet have someone else throw a ball to you. The idea is not to see how fast a ball you can stop before it hits you, but rather how well can you stay on one leg while correcting for
    unexpected movements and make the necessary alterations in posture and balance, moment to moment.

Alternatively

while still standing on the leg I asked you to stand on, you could:
      Make your tea or coffee with the "ball hand". (thanks Geoff)
      Shave with the "ball hand". (thanks Geoff)
      Stir cooking with the "ball hand".
      Putting makeup on with the "ball hand".
      Brushing hair with the "ball hand".
      Doing buttons up with the "ball hand".
I think you get the idea. Be inventive and let me know what you are doing so I can put it up here so others can also benefit. peter@headbacktohealth.com

As you progress with the exercise and as your body improves, the exercise will vary.

Generally progress can be gauged by:
Complexity:

    1)        Cross crawl exercise needed
    2)        The need to just throw and catch a ball.
    3)        Stand on one leg and throw a ball
    4)        Stand on one leg throw a ball either hand
    5)        Stand on one leg and throw a ball while standing on foam / cushion
    6)        As for 5) and throw ball in either hand
    7)        No need to exercise in this way.


Please note that just because you need to exercise at level 2) today and not level 4) it is not a set back, it is a new challenge in response to what your body has experienced and what it needs
now. So long as the general trend in your exercise requirements is one of greater complexity all is well. Progress is rarely linear. This is because of the continual demands and responses your body is required to make constantly while you are alive.

Summary

Your body needs exercise to keep fit and fully alive.

This exercise is designed to allow your body to comprehend itself better. As it does and as it becomes more able to perform the tasks, you should notice that your spine and pelvis gain in stability and the sureness of instantly making good changes to the situations brought about by everyday life situations.


Everything is connected to ever other thing. Get it all working well together!

The Cerebellum - interesting facts:

  • Takes up 10% of the brain's volume
  • Contains more than 50% of the nerves in the brain
  • Receives 200 million input nerve fibres (the eye about 1 million)
    • Inputs come from the body via the Spine (spinocerebellar tract)
    • Sensory input fro the head and face (trigeminal nerve)
    • Balance mechanisms of the ear (semicircular canals)
    • Visual input from eye pathways
  • Senses body part positioning
  • Senses the "tensegrity" of the muscles and tendons
  • Controls body and limb movements
  • Controls gait (smoothness of walking)
  • Anticipates future movement
  • Checks on what is happening now
  • Makes corrections while the new movement is happening
  • Assists in learning new movement skills
  • Orchestrates learned and automatic movements
    • The brain cortex decides where to move
    • The cerebellum plans, times and coordinates it and makes it smooth and precise
  • What was once thought to be primarily a motor/sensory integration region is now proving to be involved in many diverse cognitive (thinking) function

 

Further Reading

To get an idea of how exercise can improve brain functions involved in learning and memory improvement

:

  • "Smart Moves - Why learning is not all in your head" Carla Hannaford, PhD,   ISBN 0-915556-37-5

  • "Keep your brain alive" Katz L.C. PhD and Rubin M,                                           ISBN 0-7611-1052-6

 

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www.headbacktohealth.com
Health - Naturally
Mornington & Beechworth, Victoria, Australia
 

 

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Cerebellum (purple)