There are four agility movements in our agility circuit. Each of them done across the floor of the yoga studio, at the gym. All four seemed too much topic for one blog post. So, breaking them up into sections felt advantageous. Each of the agilities help with aspects of cerebral palsy improvement. They challenge foot placement, hand placement, body control, and balance. The movements also possess a cardio component. Raising my heart rate, as I work back and forth, across the floor. The first agility movement in our sequence has been a side-slide. In which, your feet glide from side to side. Similar to a basketball player, playing defense. Making sure not to get your feet crossing over one another. In our second agility, we target our feet crossing over one another. The second part of our program has been karaoke. Where one foot will cross the second in front, then behind. In a continuous pattern that moves me down the floor. Doing the karaoke move has been one of the more challenging agilities. The movement feels like it has been most impactful on my disability. Bernard runs me through these agilities at least once per week. Becoming part of the work we do inside the yoga studio. Along with playing catch with the small ball and jumping rope. This studio circuit feels focused on working my specific cerebral palsy hampered movement patterns.
The side-slide has probably been the least challenging of the agilities. There is a couple reason for this to be true. The first would be my familiarity with the movement pattern. The side-slide has always been used to play defense in basketball. Moving your feet from one side to the other laterally. The movement allows for a defender in basketball to remain in front of the offensive player. A side-slide feels difficult to explain with words. But, you are moving laterally with the lead foot as your guide. Moving to the right, you would step laterally to the right. Then, replace the right foot with your left. As the right foot took another stride to the right side. When you get moving, it feels like I am striding to the side, and replacing the stride with my trail foot. Being cautious not to cross your feet or have them make any contact. While the feet are moving in an alternate fashion. Bernard added an arm movement to the agility. Wanting me to me to extend the arms out and up to shoulder height, as the stride extended. Then, bring my arms back to the center of my body, while the trail foot replaced the lead foot, having the stride begin again. The ability to maintain balance also makes this agility less challenging. The feet never cross and like using the move to play defense. The side-slide provides a steady base for the movement. The biggest challenge in this agility has been coordinating my arms swinging during the slide. However, over the time, I have learned to synchronize my arms well. The more we do the side-slide, the better my arm coordination becomes.
Inside our agility circuit of four movements. The karaoke move has been the second most challenging. When thinking about the agility combination. Bernard has designed the structure to make our circuit become more difficult as it goes. Beginning with the easiest of the movements and ending with the most taxing. Doing the karaoke movement has always left me feeling like I might fall. The movement seems pretty straight forward on its surface. Crossing your trail foot in front of the lead foot. Then, moving the lead foot laterally, and cross the trail foot behind the lead foot. It feels like a movement to learn dance and maybe it is used in that manner. For me, it challenges my ability to manipulate my feet quickly. As, walking has always been complicated by my disability. This has been a great agility because of the foot work demand. Helping me discover my ability to manipulate the feet quickly. While, continuing to maintain balance in the steps. When we began with the karaoke move, it was challenging to keep my hips square. My hips and upper body would turn with each step. Which, didn’t seem to be helping the flexibility of my hips. As we continued with the movement. Bernard had me extend my arms out to the side at shoulder height. The goal was to keep the arms straight and level. Allowing my upper body and hips to stay square. The lower body was to perform the movement. The multitude of repetitions with this agility have helped me perform it better. My upper body has developed the skill of remaining pretty square. While, the lower body dances me laterally, up and down the studio floor.
The first two agilities help strengthen my coordination and balance. Helping me trust my footwork to keep me stable. The two movements work on something else important. Tightness in the exterior of my glute, hamstring, and quad. Cerebral palsy has caused the outside of my legs to struggle with tightness. The tightness of those muscles also contributes to their weakness. These areas have been a focus for Bernard within out training program. Something I hadn’t made sense of until discussing them today. While in the middle of writing this post. We ran through the agilities during our workout session. It felt like the ideal time to discuss the purpose of these movements. Part of the idea of the movement is learning how to use the outside of my upper leg. Using it to propel me down the floor on the side-slide. To load my weight onto one side and explode laterally. Our karaoke move feels like it uses much the same muscles. Though, the patterned foot movement calls on the exterior part of the upper leg to work differently. The pattern brings in a forward and across movement, rather than only moving laterally. My glute seems asked to propel my body differently. Making the movement to the side as well as forward. While the karaoke challenges me more, it also encourages the flexibility of the hip area. I enjoyed our discussion, providing added insight into the exercises. Helping me understand some of my challenging areas and how we seek improvement.
There doesn’t seem any doubt about the impact of these first two agilities. Sometimes movements help with different concepts. My focus always remains on my ability to balance. Falling has been somewhat of a struggle through life. So, learning how to handle being off balance has importance. The karaoke move continues to bring on feelings of instability. As my legs cross one another, my points of stability feel altered. Forcing me to focus on my next step. The mind often worries about missing the next step. Or, getting my body moving laterally too quickly. Leaving the feeling of falling to the floor if my next step falters. Of course, there has been no tumble to this point. But, it seems like the feeling of possibility heights my focus on the footwork. Then, there remains the side-slide. Which, I just learned helps way beyond balance. The movement works on the strength of my upper legs. Points of weakness many people struggle to work, with the story no different for my body. The exception being cerebral palsy adding to the tightness in the area. Leading to the loss of even more strength and flexibility. But, we work on these concepts to improve the disability. As we go, I learn much about how we are making improvement. The process has me thankful for people who help guide the improvement.