Build Better Balance by Targeting Your Internal GPS

The human brain is designed to perform a plethora of jobs. Anything from cognitive tasks such as solving a crossword puzzle to properly coordinating more automatic processes like breathing and regulating blood pressure. One very important task that is recognized as being both cognitive and automatic is balance.

The brain is designed to promote moment-to-moment movement patterns by gathering information from spatial sensors (for example, your hands and feet) located throughout the body. This is where your internal GPS comes into play. Your internal GPS can either help you stay healthy by contributing to postural control, optimal core muscle activation, and balance, or hinder you by negatively impacting postural alignment and joint range of motion and fine motor skills. This is based upon a concept called neuroplasticity. Your internal GPS is comprised of three primary “satellites”- the visual system (the eyes and the muscles around the eyes), the vestibular system (the inner ear – fluid that acts much like a leveler to the brain), and the proprioceptive system (one’s movement literacy in joints). Much like satellites in space sending signals to a GPS located in a car, airplane, or phone, your brain constantly relies on information presented from these three systems. Each one of these systems is incredibly important, fulfilling its own unique role in the total balance and movement equation.

Because the brain functions as a neural GPS, its job is to locate you in space utilizing the three “satellites” – your visual, vestibular, and proprioceptive systems. For this to function properly and positively impact balance and movement, there are two primary requirements:  1) The information from each satellite must be clear and understandable to the brain; 2) The brain must be able to correctly integrate all that information together. To enhance balance, it is paramount to clean up any malfunctions in the two “satellites” mentioned. Functionality in one or more satellite systems leads to poor spatial integration resulting in poor balance and movement control.

Just imagine what would happen if you were driving your car to an unknown destination and you had to rely on your GPS to guide you. Now imagine that instead of functioning properly, your GPS was getting different wrong signals about your location from each satellite that it was connected to. To top it off, your GPS blows a circuit that would occasionally prevent it from integrating the information coming in from the satellites. What do you think would happen? At a basic level, it would be very difficult to find your way. You would drive slowly and cautiously, constantly trying to understand where you were. You would likely grow frustrated, tense and angry as the struggle to simply GET to your destination utilized all of your energy and mental reserves. Fortunately, our brain’s ability to adapt and keep its satellites in shape is exceptional, and with daily joint mobility and brain-game type drills anyone can make the most of this potential.

We all have a body, a brain, and a nervous system that are inherently designed to process sensory information, which allows us to perform simple and complex tasks. Taking care of yourself requires a total body approach – with focus on the brain, the body, and nutrition. Our programs are always centered around enhancing your internal GPS, as well as your physical skills, to optimize overall performance. We offer training programs for anyone and everyone, regardless of age, skill level, or athletic/fitness goals. At A3, we believe everyone is an athlete and being an athlete is much more than sports-specific training!

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