Kinesthetic Awareness

An interest of mine has become learning about body movement. Since cerebral palsy impacts physical movement it has seemed important to understand. My interest in the information hasn’t always been part of my life. The curiosity has increased with my years of working out with a trainer. Another factor raising questions about kinesthetic has been the chiropractic adjustments in my life. When my body began really starting to feel better, the questions filled my mind. There was an importance to understanding why things were truly beginning to show improvement. The conversations taking place with Bernard seem to yield some of the most productive information. We seem to find more freedom within our communication around the disability topic. He understands many things surrounding cerebral palsy because his son also has the disability. The knowledge from his son combined with the knowledge gained from his career as a fitness trainer provide unique abilities. Our communication has the ability of common ground due to our mutual experience with CP. During the last few weeks we have spent time working on my throwing motion. While growing up I threw a ball with whatever motion worked best to deliver the ball. With the strength, we have gained in my core, a more proper and productive throwing motion has been achievable. After working on these new techniques, we have been talking about the kinesthetic awareness used to improve my throwing motion.

My research into kinesthetic awareness has been rather limited. Bernard has been discussing the concept for a few weeks and it began peaking my interest. It seems valuable to explain I’m a long way from being any kind of doctor. The physical movement concepts peak my interest because of my disability. The further my work on improving cerebral palsy progresses, the more interesting movement concepts become. So, kinesthetic awareness basically mean knowing where your body is in space. As you perform a task like throwing a ball, kinesthetic awareness provides the ability to understand where your body is as the physical act is being performed. The awareness of those movements provides the ability to improve the technique of the physical act. When thinking about the relation of kinesthetic awareness to training, Bernard has constantly worked with me on understanding my body positions in space. When we work on a pressing motion, talks about keeping my left arm square and balanced. When bouncing the lacrosse ball, we concentrated on hand placement to catch the ball bouncing off the floor or wall. These two examples gave me the opportunity to watch the movements of my body during the exercise. Being able to view my missteps made them more easy to correct. When throwing a ball, I’m unable to watch the movement as it is taking place.

Cerebral palsy seems to make having kinesthetic awareness more challenging. Without being a doctor it would be challenging to understand from a medical perspective. However, it does feel difficult to find much consistency with understanding my body in space. The spasticity of my muscles can make different forms of balance unpredictable. My muscles also have a desire to tighten and are challenged with the concept of full extension through the joints. Sometimes my limbs cooperate with the requests being sent from the brain, while other times it becomes a struggle. All the inconsistency can bring about frustration when working on performing physical tasks correctly. While another piece seemingly causing the struggle of kinesthetic awareness would be the challenge of coordination. With cerebral palsy causing barriers for signals from the brain. It can be overwhelming to get correct brain signals to the correct muscles in order for coordinated movement patterns to succeed. It takes plenty of repetitions to open pathways for different body movements to work together coherently. The challenge of achieving kinesthetic awareness with cerebral palsy seems to be no easy task. Which sets up the ideal challenge for Bernard and I to work on.

While gaining the ability to correct physical movements when watching myself, it was time to challenge awareness more directly. We used the throwing motion to work more specifically on kinesthetic awareness. There are different ways in which we throw different types of balls used in athletics. A baseball is thrown with different techniques from that of throwing a football. Bernard has been teaching the throwing motion more likely to be used by a quarterback. Even though we are using medium size exercise balls rather than a football, the form remains that of a quarterback. One of the main points of the technique has been to open my hips and point my left foot at the target. In our case, the target has been a medium size wicker laundry basket sitting about fifteen feet away from my throwing point. Bernard wanted me to work on pointing my foot toward the target as the ball was released. He placed three stickers on the wood floor side by side. The middle sticker pointed directly at the basket and one sticker was on each side. The outside stickers were my boundaries to stay between, as the target was to land my left foot on the middle sticker. Bernard wanted me to step and throw, trying to land my foot between the two outside stickers.

When we began working on the throwing motion, mine required some improvement. Cerebral palsy had caused my motion to be altered. Growing up I was simply trying to throw a ball in whatever way worked best. So, throwing became about keeping my balance instead of using the correct form. When Bernard set the stickers on the floor my throwing motion truly began to change. He also placed a sticker just in front of the basket where I was aiming. Now, there were visual cues to help improve my throwing motion. Each time I would make a throw, Bernard asked for me to look down at my lead foot. The goal was to notice were my foot was coming down as the ball was released. Something else to look for was the direction my foot was pointing. The markers helped me understand were my foot was landing and it didn’t take long to land on the middle sticker. The trickiest part of the exercise was the direction of my foot when it landed during the throw. This seems to be where kinesthetic awareness comes in to help with understanding my mechanics. My hips needed to open wider to give my leg and foot the ability to open as well. The motion goes against cerebral palsy, which tends to force my leg and foot inward. Pointing my foot toward the basket instead of keeping it closed and pointed to the side is still being worked on. Each time the ball has been released I look down to check my foot. Hopefully this action gives me better kinesthetic awareness of my foot.

The position of my lead foot during our throwing work has improved. Something kinesthetic awareness does is helps with improving movement technique. It becomes helpful to understand the body in space during these movements. Once we can recognize the motions of our body, we can take the actions to improve them. Bernard and I will likely continue working on this concept. Kinesthetic awareness seems to be an important tool to help with cerebral palsy improvement. It’s challenging to have my muscles perform exactly the way they are being asked. Often Bernard gives me examples of how a movement should be executed, then shows me how I’m doing it, after I make that request. Being able to learn how to compare the two and correct the movement seems important to improve CP. I’m not a doctor, so this is my best understanding of kinesthetic awareness through conversations and light research. We will continue working on understanding my movements in space, maybe this will spark some ideas for you.

 

 


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