As we have been progressing to improve our Balance, Alignment and Motion we have been concentrating for the most part on the physicality of various exercises. We have mentioned the bodies constant goal to keep the body in balance . . . the concept of proprioception . . . the body’s ability to maintain its position in space. This week we are going to go a bit deeper and address the vestibular ocular connection.
Let’s break that down . . . how are they connected? The vestibular system controls balance and eye movements via the inner ear and portions of the brain (specifically the cerebellum, the coordination center of the brain, and the cerebral cortex, the thinking and memory center). It takes all the information sent via the semi-circular canals in your inner ears, the sensory receptors in the retina (rods and cones) and the input from your muscles and joints and sends it to the brain stem where it is all sorted out.
So, what are we going to do? We are going to take a simple test. Before we start let’s set up a means of communication with our body. We are going to let it tell us if this test was a good experience or not. There has been some research to demonstrate that when testing various systems of the body you can communicate with it to determine if it is a good or bad experience. Select a range of motion test you do regularly . . . maybe a forward fold (seated or standing), a twist to the right/left or a test of your arms’ inward/outward rotation. Try it out and note what you are feeling. Is your right tighter than your left? Does one have more range of motion? Mentally make a note of that difference.
Now . . . the test. Put a sticky on the wall or identify a point on the wall directly in front of you. If you have had any dizziness, fainting or vertigo issues you are going to want to take this test seated in a chair. If you have none of those issues, line up with the spot. You are going to fix your gaze on the dot but move your head gently from side to side not losing the connection with the dot. This all happens rather quickly. This is all being monitored and controlled via the inner ear and the communication we noted earlier. It’s automatic. Now test your selected exercise again . . . your forward fold, whatever you tested earlier. Are you less tight, less pain, greater range of motion? If yes, your body is saying . . . good test. You can repeat the test with a nod (up and down motion) the second time as opposed to shaking your head. Again, test your body with your test range of motion.
This is a drill you can do throughout the day and feel free to create others. As we have learned . . . it’s all connected. We have to make sure we don’t get so overwhelmed in the “exercise” of our health that we forget our brain needs exercise as well. Try to improve its input and you will see that your entire body will function better.
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