The controlled strength and performance that comes from mastering coordination
Coordination is a commonly overlooked but critical function of fitness. Essential in many sports, athletes are regularly seen displaying exceptional hand to eye coordination in soccer, rugby and basketball – never mind gymnastics. But coordination comes in simpler forms too; simply being able to put one foot in front of the other requires it.
The benefits of improved coordination
Essentially it is our ability to control and organize our own body to enable it to work correctly and create movement. Muscle once again performs a key role, as coordination is in part the expression of the development of our neuromuscular system.
The ability to coordinate our body before we even engage in movement is extremely important. By closely examining our coordination we begin to assess each movement we perform, helping us analyse and understand whether we are performing the movement correctly. If we start a movement correctly we are more likely going to finish that movement correctly.
Once you understand how to coordinate your body you can explore whatever movements you aspire to bring within your capabilities, which is very exciting.
First ensure each joint and muscle moves freely, which is closely linked to flexibility and mobility. If so, then evaluate whether the correct muscles are properly engaged to perform a given task. Let’s use an example where poor coordination can cause serious injury; resistance training.
The Lat Pulldown provides a good example of a common mistake, when the Lat muscles are not fully engaged in the movement. Typically, individuals display little to no scapula depression, with many people simply yanking the weight down through an arm and hip movement, using momentum to move the weight rather than a proper coordination of the correct muscles. Not only is this counter-productive as to the point of the exercise, but it risks damage to other parts of the body.
Better coordination brings big rewards
Just by performing simple movements correctly, with the right musculature engaged, this opens the door to:
- improving the performance aspect of the movement itself, e.g. adding weight, if you want to improve strength
- developing more complex movement patterns and sequences of movement patterns, e.g. boxing, martial arts or gymnastics.
By starting to appreciate and understand the importance of coordination, how it provides us with the ability to organize and perform movement, we can enhance our physical abilities in our prime and so continue to enjoy these sensations as we age.
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