Improve your overall coordination with these exercises.

Being a tall lanky kid, I never thought of myself as coordinated. I was all arms, legs, and clumsy. And I still am. I’ve lost count of the amount of stuff that has slipped out of my hands and smashed on the floor. Let’s just say my wife doesn’t bat an eyelid when this happens anymore.

But being clumsy doesn’t mean I’m not coordinated.

My childhood was spent being active, playing with friends, competing in athletics and team sports. Because of this I could run, jump, swing a bat and catch a ball. Playing and having fun helped me become more coordinated.  In fact, even as I age, my hand-eye coordination is still pretty good.

Except when I drop stuff on the floor. 😊

But with smartphones and such, people play less and sit more. Not only does this lead to poor posture and weight gain, but it also leads to being less coordinated. Coordination isn’t about being an athlete or performing circus tricks. Being coordinated is being capable of doing what your body is designed to do.

But before going into exercises to become better coordinated, what does it mean?

Coordinated Definition

Coordinated means to be unified. When you say someone is coordinated, you mean that they can get their muscles and body to work in sync. The word comes from the Latin prefix “together” and ordinare meaning “order.” When something or someone is coordinated, all the parts operate together in sync. (1)

Just like your body should.

A 2015 study found that proprioceptive training improves your balance and coordination by more than 50 percent. Here are some training tips to improve your balance and coordination by training your awareness of how your body is meant to move.

Let’s dive in.

Balance Exercises To Improve Coordination

Balance is ‘the ability to support the body’s center of mass over its base of support.’(2) Balance is both static (still) and dynamic (movement).

The systems that work to keep you upright are

1.      The Vestibular system – is in the inner ear. This provides the brain with information about the body’s motion, equilibrium, and spatial awareness

2.      The Musculoskeletal system – skin, muscles, ligaments, and tendons send sensory information to the brain that makes you aware of your body’s position in space and when changes happen in your environment.

3.      The Neuromuscular system – information from the eyes, vestibular and musculoskeletal systems travel via the neuromuscular system to the brain which then sends information to respond to changes in the environment via the central and peripheral nervous system.

Now any stock standard exercise that has you balancing on one foot will improve your coordination and awareness in space.

But these three exercises will test all three of these systems above to the limit. Are they difficult? Yes, you will most likely lose your balance. But they will make you more aware of your body and better coordinated.

Single-Leg Med Ball Transfer

Pass The Bell

Kettlebell Swap

The transfer of the weight challenges your dynamic balance which in turn helps you become better coordinated and a more balanced person. Well at least in the gym.

Strength Training Exercises To Improve Coordination

Like with balance exercises most strength exercises help you build a stronger foundation to increase your body’s awareness and move how your body is meant to. Plus performing direct core moves improves your balance (and coordination) by strengthening the muscles that hold you upright.

The best core exercises to improve balance and coordination are contralateral movements. Contralateral movements are moving your opposite limbs at the same time. Like walking, jogging, sprinting, and marching on the spot. They form the basis of human movement.

The contralateral movements activate the left and right hemispheres of your brain which can help you think clearer and reduce stress while improving your core strength and coordination. Here are a few examples.

Deadbug

Birddogs

Half-Kneeling Pallof Press

These exercises may seem easy but, in my experience, when clients must think about moving contralateral, they struggle. And when they ‘get it’ their coordination and strength improve.  Then moving to strength exercises that involve opposite limbs further improves balance and coordination. Here are a few examples.

Deadbug Floor Press

Birddog Row

Row To Triceps Extension

The above exercise involves moving opposite limbs, in sync against resistance. So, you will improve your strength, coordination, and balance. Plus, you’ll look cool doing them and that’s important, right?   

Going Back To Your Childhood To Improve Coordination

When you were growing up, you engaged in exercise play, which involves physical activity to support the training of your muscles for strength, endurance, and skill. Think of swinging on the monkey bars at the park playground

Back then, play was the neural and muscular basis of your physical coordination and growth. And going back to ‘play’ may help you improve your coordination and balance. (3) Again, here are a couple of examples.

Note- Like balance and strength exercises there’s a lot of exercises here that will work. This is just what I use.

Reaction ball drills

And who doesn’t like playing with balls?

The beauty of the reaction ball is movement without thinking. See the ball, go get the ball. And before you know it you’ve performed squats, hinges, and dozens of lunges without realizing it. Plus, improving your hand-eye coordination never goes astray.

Agility ladder drills

These are a fun way to get the heart rate up and to raise a sweat while improving your coordination and balance The agility ladder will help you learn a wide array of different movement patterns without you even realizing it because you’ll be having too much fun.

Wrapping Up

Coordination is a use it or lose it thing. But even if you’ve lost it or need to improve it, it is never too late to start. These exercises will go a long way to moving your body the way it’s meant to move. As a unit.

Except of course when you drop a plate on the floor. Hang on, wait that’s me. 😊

2 Comments

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    […] Coordination: The Neglected Part of Fitness – Shane McLean […]

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