5 exercises to improve coordination

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

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

Dr. Frankenberger points out that many activities of daily living (ADLs) are more complex, biomechanically speaking, than you might think. Even something as mundane as washing dishes is a complex trick for your brain and body. “Most of our daily movements involve multiple joints or body regions, and are inherently variable based on the response of our nervous system and musculoskeletal system,” he says, referring to the structure of your muscles made up of your bones and connective tissue.

Think of coordination as your body’s own symphony orchestra. “Our bodies and brains are constantly receiving feedback from multiple systems that look like a unified movement,” says Dr. Frankenberger, “like the different sections of an orchestra coming together under the conductor to create beautiful music.” One of the best ways to fine-tune your instrument (like your body) is to practice exercises to improve coordination.

“For coordination exercises, you’ll want to focus on repetition and speed of movement,” advises Dr. Frankenberger. “Gradually increase the speed of the movement until you can perform it smoothly and precisely.” You can break each of the exercises below into pieces before trying to coordinate the complex movement as a whole. Aim for 30-50 repetitions of each exercise three to four times per week.

5 exercises to improve coordination

1. Jumping rope

“It’s easy to do at home even if you don’t have a rope,” says Dr. Frankenberger. “Just coordinating your arm motions with hopping is a good coordination exercise.”

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

2. Bird dog

Start on all fours with your wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Lift your right arm and left leg off the floor at the same time, extending both straight and reaching as far from your toes as possible to your fingertips. Switch to the side by lowering both limbs down. That one is representative.

How it helps: “This alternating motion is very similar to the coordination required to alternately extend the arms and legs while standing,” says Dr. Frankenberger. “You’re building core stability and capacity for long-distance movement.” This means big movements that require you to move your limbs away from the center of your body.

3. Standing March

Begin standing with feet under hips. Lift your right knee up so that your thigh is parallel to the floor and hold for an inhale. Then, lower it down and change direction and side. That one is representative.

How it helps: “Balance has to do with coordination,” says Dr. Frankenberger. “They are two separate things, but there is overlap between the two. Here, you’re coordinating your motion using hip flexion and core stability on alternate legs.”

4. Overhead squat

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend your arms overhead. While keeping your torso straight, sit back on your glutes and deeply bend both knees (keeping them away from each other), lowering your seat to the floor. Make sure your butt doesn’t go lower than your knees, which don’t go in front of your toes.

How it helps: Much like the standing march, you’re coordinating whole-body movements using hip flexion (bending) and core stability.

5. Walking lunges

Begin standing with feet under hips. Take a big step forward with your right foot, then bend deeply through both knees, entering your lunge. Press down with your front heel and push off your back leg to stand up and step your left leg forward to meet the right. Now repeat with the left leg. That one is representative. Continue in stages and turn around when you run out of room. As with the overhead squat, make sure your knees are in line with your second and third toes and don’t collapse inward.

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

Final take

Coordination is an essential part of ease of daily movement and injury avoidance. It involves speed, agility and accuracy, whether you’re talking about hand-eye skills (using the visual system to control movement), fine motor skills (small hand movements like writing and pointing) or gross motor skills (using large ones). muscle group walking, sitting, standing, etc.).

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

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