What All Great Athletes (Especially Dancers) Have In Common
In all athletic activities, excellence comes down to one main feature.
Whether it’s a basketball player, soccer player, gymnast, or dancer, all of the top tier performers share a remarkable ability to make their bodies do exactly what they desire.
In world of health care, we say that these athletes and performers have excellent motor control.
When someone has excellent motor control, it means that they can make their bodies perform a movement with great precision and great timing with minimal compensation patterns. This allows a soccer player twist their hip and ankle in the right way to put spin on a soccer ball. It allows a gymnast to spin, flip, and tumble in the air, and then land with perfect posture. It allows a basketball player to move their wrist a couple millimeters higher to get a shot to miss a defender’s hand, and into a basket.
There’s no sport or activity that creates a higher demand for motor control than dance. Dancer’s are required to have their torso, limbs, fingers, and toes in exact places and precise times. This is all happening while they need to pay attention to their facial expressions, their posture, and making plans for their next move. It’s really remarkable and awe-inspiring at times! In fact, you even say that the goal of dance is to elicit an emotional response to perfectly timed motor control.
It’s not exactly the sexiest description of dance, but from a scientific standpoint, it’s really a beautiful phenomenon to observe.
How Do You Get Better Motor Control
Truthfully, the biggest impact on motor control really comes from practice and feedback. A dancer needs to perform and get constant feedback so their brain can start to form a memory of what a movement is supposed to feel like. Constant practice with increasing difficulty and challenge forces the nervous system to adapt in new ways.
But you probably knew that already.
When it comes to seeking outside help for improved motor control, many of the best athletes choose to see a chiropractor. As a chiropractor with a focus on Structural Correction, my goal for a patient often extends beyond pain and injury, and enters the world of performance.
It’s common to hear athletes like weight lifters, equestrians, and dancers to notice that they feel more in tune with the movements of their bodies when it’s in a structurally sound position. This allows for more powerful muscle activity, improved postural control, and improved lung capacity when they are in the heat of competition.
The reason for this has to do with the intimate relationship between the spine and the brain. Movement of the spine is an important source of stimulus for the brain. In fact, a large part of the subconcious brain are devoted to function of the spinal muscles. When the spine gets stuck, or fixated, it creates a short circuit in the connection between the brain and the muscular system.
Correcting these spinal shifts can be the difference between good to great body awareness and function.