Improve your go by learning to Tango!
Is movement a struggle?
Do you have pain in your knees and hips? Do you feel like your legs are not your own? The neuromuscular system communicates between your brain and muscles. It responds instantly to movement, balance, and joint position. If you think about it, we are all just standing on stilts with the strength of our muscles holding us up. But what happens when we unlearn to walk? Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and Osteoarthritis are some diseases that directly cause imbalance and loss of movement. Neuromuscular exercises are like agility training in slow motion. These movements positively affect balance and improve normal function. Improve the neuromuscular system by moving in funky ways like walking the balance beam, going speed skating, or learning to Tango!
The nerve network is like an upside-down tree with roots at the brain and the smallest branches and leaves extending into the muscles and skin. Just like trees move sunlight down to grow roots and water up to grow leaves and bark, electrical signals travel the neuromuscular network to and from the brain and muscles. Good thing it works all on its own. Imagine controlling 600 hundred muscles at the same time as and chewing gum? Trees energies are moved by the wind pumping the branches. Muscle and brain energies travel by electrical impulses. The best way to challenge this automatic system is to try to walk and chew gum. Well, let’s start with something a little simpler.
If you have any of the mentioned diagnoses, it may feel like your body is not your own. Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis specifically damage these same neuromuscular networks. Osteoarthritic pain causes you to move off track. This takes your body off of the strongest muscles and out of your neuromuscular network. All of this can make the legs feel weak. Some of my clients have described this feeling like ice skating without the skates on. First, you are standing, then you are looking up at others around you. Physical therapy through your physician is the best first defense for these diseases. Do it as often as you can. For neuromuscular health maintenance, you could consider movements for improvement.
A good health therapy to start would be balance exercises as simple as standing on one foot and then the other. If you are safer in the seated position, slightly lean to the right and left with your feet planted on the floor. Place one foot in front of the other like a pretend balance beam. Seated or standing can trigger a neuromuscular response. Finally, slow-motion agility movements would be more of a challenge if you can stand safely. Hold a chair for balance and reach the right leg back beyond the left leg. Repeat on the other side. Move like a speed skater going around corners. This improves the neuromuscular response to the hips and knees. It’s a bit more challenging than chewing gum and walking. But if you want to get the neuromuscular system to grow, you could always learn the Tango!
According to the Geriatric Physical Therapy website, “Thirty hours of adapted tango lessons improved balance, mobility, endurance, and dual-task ability in a participant with chronic stroke. The participant enjoyed the classes, was adherent and wished to continue.” So, walk the balance beam, go speed skating, or learn the Tango – any movement apart from normal movement will make normal movement easier.