The premise is development and continued training of coordination and strength will help prevent falls from occurring.
Coordination is made up of many aspects, all of which contribute to the safe and efficient execution of daily tasks and sport participation. An oft-used definition describes coordination as the ability to successfully accomplish movement patterns that require the interrelated cooperation of various parts of the body to complete. These movements are completed with a minimum of effort and without tension or mental mistakes while doing so.
A properly constructed coordination training program will involve continual learning and subsequent perfecting of the basics which will follow a well thought out plan of attack. Consideration must be given to the following attributes of the program.
Continuous variation of the movement patterns, meaning inclusion of the acts of balancing, throwing, catching, jumping, and marching
Perfection of the basics of coordination as mentioned in an earlier paragraph (maintain a sense of rhythm, spatial orientation…)
Combinations of strength, strength speed, and endurance integrated within the coordination training will use the repetitive methods of achieving success in the development of coordination abilities. By using various methods during practice the body increases its repertoire of skills.
A very basic but productive coordination program is a combination of balance, quick controlled movements, mirroring another’s hand, arm and leg motions or executing familiar exercises in new positions. Other additions to the routine which are phased in on an irregular basis will be adding extra moves to an already mastered technique or exercise or doing them in different conditions such as on a balance pad or with perturbations via personal contact or elastic bands.
Of course each of these suggestions needs to be carefully evaluated by the individual or the individual and their doctor if osteoporosis is an issue. Broken bones derived from an exercise are not conducive to good bone health!
As would be expected the physiological basis of this component of living lies in the synchronization of the neurological motor processes of the body. These processes must function in such a manner as to excite one motor control center without a residual effect on another motor center directing another part of the body. Most individuals include agility and balance in the mix with coordination. Typically one will not see a well-coordinated person with deficits in agility, balance or strength. Additional attributes will also be seen in the coordinated ability to maintain a sense of rhythm, spatial orientation and kinesthetic differentiation along with proper reactions to sound or visual cues.
Coordination training has its roots in diversified movements, versatility and large global, expansive and expressive movements. The more exercises and movements that are mastered the better prepared the body will be to learn more complicated ones in the future. In order to vary the training, incorporate these twelve features into the program. Not all at once though. Explanations and examples follow.
1. Direction of movement changes
2. Vary the starting positions going into the movement
3. Change the finishing positions
4. Utilize larger ranges of movements
5. Fluctuate the pace of movement
6. Place time limitations on the movements
7. Add additional moves
8. Add additional tasks
9. Environmental changes
10. Practice coordination in an environmentally disturbed state
11. Changing responses to various cues for exercises that require a reaction to a signal
12. Performing another movement requiring coordination that upsets the balance and coordination of the previous move.
Direction of movement changes
Once a move is mastered it becomes second nature to repeat. Enlarging upon this natural pattern then becomes the training goal. For example when doing dumbbell curls it is easy to move both up and down at the same time or to do alternate arms but try moving one up for one repetition while simultaneously moving the other up for two repetitions.
Change the starting positions
Every exercise has a start, middle and finish position. A regular squat begins by standing upright with the bar on the back. And it normally ends the same way. Now start it in the down position. You will experience new challenges.
Change the finishing positions
As mentioned before all exercises have the three elements of start, middle and finish. In the previous example we started at the bottom of the lift. Now finish at the bottom instead of in the standing position.
Utilize larger ranges of movements
In some exercises the movements are very small compared to the larger gross movements of the body. The barbell curl can be made into a much greater range simply by ending with the elbows held high at shoulder level.
Fluctuate the pace of movement
Cadence counting is a reminder to keep smooth and on track with the exercise. The use of a metronome is a handy device for altering these patterns. Set one up for 30 beats per minute and keep up with it. Next set it for 50 beats and repeat the exercise or have your trainer or partner count in an off cadence manner as you exercise. The eccentric motion can be at a count of 1,2,3,4 where as the concentric is 1, 2. The next count could be at 1, 2 with the eccentric and the concentric also at 1, 2. The point is to disrupt the natural flow and force the body to accommodate to the new speed changes.
Place time limitations on the movements
This is similar to the preceding but in this case the exercise is executed an exact number of repetitions during a precise amount of time. Jumping up and landing ninety degrees from the starting position four times in fifteen seconds. Sticking the landing and in the correct ending position with each repetition.
Add additional moves
Additional moves added into an already mastered exercise develop the coordination process by adaptation of an altered motor control sequence. Jumping up and down while moving one arm up and the other down, or kicking the legs outward as you move your arms to the sides are examples of such added moves.
Add additional tasks to the exercise
This is a commonly used tactic for trainers on a limited time line. In the military press you could add shoulder shrugs top and bottom as the extra movements
Environmental condition changes
This implies adding extra weight to the athlete, altering the height of an obstacle that must be jumped, doing the exercises in water, in a very limited space or with distractions surrounding the athlete such as noise, crowded conditions in water.
Practice coordination in an environmentally disturbed state
Do the exercises while blindfolded, with added perturbations using tubing, elastic bands or partner disturbances to the balance practice positions. One example out of hundreds will be while standing heel-to-toe have a partner gently tug or push various parts of your body as you remain balanced and continuing on with the exercise.
Changing responses to various cues for exercises that require a reaction to a signal
In this case we are making the body adapt to external cues before performing a maneuver. For instance, a light could signal a squat whereas an audio signal would mean a jump squat was to be performed or both signals at the same time could mean a twisting jump squat where the athlete jumps up and turns a specific number of degrees before landing.
Performing another movement requiring coordination that upsets the balance and coordination of the previous move.
For example, spinning in a circle and then standing on one foot, doing a rolling forward somersault and then standing heel to toe immediately thereafter.
Each of the preceding examples are parts of a coordination training program; but simply practicing coordination is not enough to prevent falls from happening. It seems as though some falls are inevitable. Those that aren’t are the ones we are working on fixing at this juncture. Coordination without strength is an oxymoron; the two are mutually supportive and must be included in any sensible program.
Strength and coordination
A well coordinated person implies adequate strength to maneuver the body in such a fashion as to move gracefully with the utmost of efficiency while doing so. Adding extra weight to the body increases the demands made upon the coordination processes within the organism particularly if the balance properties are being challenged to any degree.