Do you have one of those friends that is always getting hurt for no particular reason? You know – that friend that always manages to trip over their own feet or stumble into inanimate objects. This is also the same friend that manages to cut themselves, regularly, when trying to cook or slams their fingers into closing doors or windows. Even worse, are you that friend? If you are, I am sorry to tell you this, but you are a what we in the PT industry call a motor moron.
A motor moron is a loose term of endearment that we reserve for those that have limited body and spatial awareness. For lack of a better term, these people have poor coordination. The most benign result is that these people are entertaining to observe during sporting activities or on a dance floor at a wedding. Unfortunately, having poor coordination will also result in a person being at a higher risk for orthopaedic injury or trauma.
Recently, this topic came to mind when a dear friend asked my advice on whether or not she should enroll her 3 year old daughter in ballet classes. She thought that I would have a fairly unbiased recommendation, despite my love for ballet, because I am also aware of what the unnatural positions of ballet can do to the body long term. The advice that I gave her was that I am believer that all children should be enrolled in some type of dance-like movement classes at a young age. Some people grow up with no coordination issues and become the natural athlete, while others grow up to be motor morons.
Having a child in a movement class at a young age, whether it is ballet, modern, creative movement, or tap class is a wonderful way to teach body awareness, spatial awareness, creativity through movement, and more advanced tasks such as balance, shock absorption, agility/directional change mirroring, and mental processing. These are all functional tasks that are needed for more traditional sporting activities as well, which is why I think it’s important to learn these things early on.
When you know where your body is in space, you can make those quick directional changes on a soccer field with less likelihood of spraining a ligament or you can absorb the shock a bit better from landing that lay up on the basketball court. These are things best learned as a young child when we are just sponges willing to soak up all the sensory information that the world has to offer us, but this is something that can be improved upon as an adult as well.
I do think that dance is a great way to learn these things. The reason why is because no matter what, things will always be done equally on both sides of the body. Things are done at slow paces and fast paces. The slower things are done, the more we have to pay attention to what our bones, joints and muscles are telling us, and we can experiment with self correction and learn our body and how posturing affects movement.
The lesson is don’t be the embarrassing friend that trips over the object on the floor that never existed. Get yourself into a guided movement class. Many dance studios offer adult intro classes in varying styles of dance if ballet isn’t your cup of tea. If you are too intimidated by dance, perhaps try a martial art like Tai Chi or Qigong. If you are battling injury and are looking to improve your overall motor coordination, visit your friendly therapists at PhysioDC for a comprehensive evaluation so we can get you to the path of movement with ease and grace.
Image credits: top © Narong Jongsirikul/Adobe; middle © Satyrenko/Adobe; bottom © Drobot Dean/Adobe.