What do you do when your phone or computer is not working correctly? You might reboot or reset the technology to regain proper working order. Imagine if you could reset your own motor control patterns in your brain to improve your movement capabilities? By pressing reset in your own vestibular system you can stimulate rapid changes in movement quality.
Certain corrective movements can stimulate the vestibular system and promote gains in overall movement competency. I will introduce a series of five resets that can produce immediate improvements in your movements, strength, and performance. These five resets can be unlocked by diaphragmatic breathing, head nodding, rolling, rocking, and crawling. Certain resets will be more beneficial than others and individual results will vary from person to person. The key is to find the combination of resets that work best for you and will aid in your movement improvements.
As a infant we learn how to move our body about this world. Holding our head up, rolling, and crawling are all fundamental movements that we learn for survival purposes. These movements will lead to kneeling, standing, and eventually upright walking. We master our head control and gain the ability to move in our contralateral patterns. All of these movements will help to develop our vestibular system and be critical in our later years as we begin to participate and excel in sports.
Fast forward thirteen years and we’re all looking for that missing variable in our training program that will help to take us to the next level. We try various types of supplemental training modalities in hope of improving our performances. What if we were able to address injury prevention, balance, and performance enhancement all simultaneously with a new, system specific training method? All of this to supplement our running and get us closer to that next personal best. Have you ever thought about or considered implementing some vestibular training into your program? What is the vestibular system and how could this enhance my running? This is a valid question and I will shed some light on the topic.
The vestibular system could be the most important sensory system that we have. This is your “balance” system and your visual and proprioceptive systems are dependent on the vestibular system to allow optimal movement and performance. Keeping your vestibular system finely tuned and sharp will translate to gains in mobility, stability, and strength. As those three variables improve performance is soon to follow. The vestibular system, which is a key contributor to our balance and sense of spatial orientation, is the sensory system that provides essential movement and equilibrium skills. The vestibular sense is important for development of balance, coordination, eye control, attention, being secure with movement and some aspects of language development. The vestibular system is composed of the vestibular receptors in the inner ear, the connections between them and other areas in the central nervous system. Together with the cochlea, a part of the auditory system, it constitutes the labyrinth of the inner ear, situated in the inner ear. The vestibular system sends signals primarily to the neural structures that control our eye movements, and to the muscles that keep us upright.
Keeping the vestibular system sharp and ready for our activities should be our main goal. Like any system of the body if you leave it unchallenged and inactive it gets rusty and will function less than optimally. As we strive for improvements in performance it’s these loose ends that can be the difference in climbing through your current plateau in training. To address this system we have incorporated a system created by our friends at Original Strength and Tim Anderson.
1. Breathing: This is the first stop in our system resets. As many infants mature developmentally they tend to drift away from our preferred breathing patterns. Without proper diaphragmatic activation in our breathing patterns our body will fall short of our movement potential. Proper diaphragmatic breathing can do wonders for core activation, gait patterns, and improved performance. Once we master our breathing from basic supine positions we can then begin to utilize these techniques while involved in more dynamic upright movements.
2. Quadruped Rocking: This particular reset can produce immediate changes in your ability to squat to proficiency. This unloaded movement allows you to groove the squatting pattern and prepare your for adding appropriate loads. Start in the quadruped position or on hands and knees. From this position you will rock in and out of the squat position in an inverted, unloaded posture. This rocking movement can be used in warm ups or as an active recovery exercise in between sets of complementary movements.
3. Head Nodding: Head control is essential for balance, posture, and coordination. We teach head nods to help people start learning how to regain control of how to use their head. This improved head control can help restore balance postural coordination. The vestibular system also lives in the head and nods are a direct way to activate the vestibular system very quickly. Head nodds also help to ignite the posterior chain which will help to improve gait patterns and improved performance.
4. Rolling: Rolling is a concept that is beginning to gain respect in the strength and conditioning world thanks to the great work of Pavel Kolar, Gray Cook, and Craig Liebenson. The basis of rolling goes back to the developmental sequence during which a baby follows a predictable set of developmental movement parameters as a result of “pre-programmed” neural patterns. After lifting the head, the first step in the sequence is rolling. By allowing appropriate developmental sequencing, the baby goes through postural ontogenesis and develops reflex responses that are useful at later stages of development. By practicing these movements we can re-establish neural connections that may have been lost over our childhood, adolescent, and adult years. ( Tim Anderson, Breaking Muscle 2013 )
5. Crawling: Crawling is a developmental movement pattern that ties everything about you together.In developing children, crawling activates and integrates the different parts of the brain. Through crawling, neural connections and pathways are established in the brain that allow the brain to become more efficient at communication between the left and right hemispheres. Perhaps the greatest benefit to crawling is that it builds a foundation of reflexive strength, the original strength you were born to develop. Your reflexive strength, also known as your reflexive stability, is your body’s ability to anticipate movement before it happens and/or reflexively react to movement as it happens.