FallOut CrossFit – School of Elite Fitness Tri-cities, WA

From the Blog

January 7, 2013

Working That Vestibular System!!!!


“Spinning Grace”

30 clean and jerks for time

Every 3 C & J’s, stop and perform 2 jump 360 degrees

 

old_women_on_roundabout

The vestibular system, which contributes to balance in most mammals and to the sense of spatial orientation, is the sensory system that provides the leading contribution about movement and sense of balance. Together with the cochlea, a part of the auditory system, it constitutes the labyrinth of the inner ear in most mammals, situated in the vestibulum in the inner ear. As movements consist of rotations and translations, the vestibular system comprises two components: the semicircular canal system, which indicate rotational movements; and the otoliths, which indicate linear accelerations. The vestibular system sends signals primarily to the neural structures that control eye movements, and to the muscles that keep a creature upright. The projections to the former provide the anatomical basis of the vestibulo-ocular reflex, which is required for clear vision; and the projections to the muscles that control posture are necessary to keep a creature upright.

The vestibular system is highly developed in the early years of life as toddlers and children are playing on merry-go-rounds, slides, teeter totters, monkey bars and swings.   These toys can all be found in playgrounds.  Other games that we used to play are “upsy daisy”, “bucking bronco” on your father’s knee,  and “rocket launcher” in the swimming pool.   Bounce Houses are one of the most popular events at birthday parties.  Kids become obsessed with these games and toys.  They focus on inversion, foot/hand precision, rapid change of direction, and strength to enhance our vestibular system.

Without even realizing it parents are helping developing their child’s vestibular system.  These children become fearless if balance is developed properly and early in life.  Before you know it, those kids are zooming down the mountain without ski poles and doing flips on the gymnastics floor.  The minute we stop exercising our balance, we begin to lose it.  Athletes will continue to enhance or maintain balance through their sport however most sports do not focus on inversion, heights, or rapid change of direction on an unstable surface.  Gymnastics is one of the most popular sports for young children and involves jumping, hanging, and flipping.  Unfortunately, many kids do not continue past age 8-10 with it.  Recess time and PE classes are cut exponentially until middle school.  The kids who do not participate in sports are left in the dust and vestibular systems begin to decline.

As we become adults, unless we practice inversions in yoga, take part in rock climbing, mountain biking and sports alike we become deficit in our tolerance to positions other than upright.  If one other component of balance is lost – strength, vision, or proprioception – risk of fall is exponentially increased.  The “use it or lose it rule” becomes vital to long-term maintenance of balance.  This is already common knowledge as many people are practicing their single leg balance (for proprioception), strengthening their core/hips with gym programs and getting their eyes checked for long-term optical health.   How do we exercise our vestibular system? Get rolling, twisting, flipping, and spinning!

 

 

 

 

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