We’ve talked about how balance is a multi-faceted skill involving many parts before. Today I wanted to share how your neurology can affect your balance. Addressing the neurology aspect of balance has honestly been a game-changer with in our senior fitness programs.
First, your brain not only controls your body’s every move but every function. Every breath taken, blood pressure, pain sensations, food digestion, everything. Hopefully we can all agree on that.
Next, your brain controls the body through a vast, intricate system of nerves. Nerve signaling can happen at speeds in excess of 200 mph! This is important because if you can change what nerves fire and where the changes can happen VERY quickly.
Finally, it’s important to keep the following phrase in mind,
“What wires together, fires together”
This means that if a nerve is activated/fired, the surrounding nerves will also become activated/excited. Think of a matchbook. If you light one match on fire while still connected in the book-the others will also catch fire. The same is true for our neurology. The trick is knowing where those nerves orginate and who their next door neighbors are.
Neurology: Cranial nerves
The nerves in the your brain are called the cranial nerves. Cranial nerve VIII (8) is the vestibular nerve. This is the main nerve that helps with your balance. This root of the nerve starts in the brain stem.
Cranial nerve IX (9) is the Glossopharyngeal nerve. They are right next to each other in the brain stem. This nerve (among other things) deals with sensation on the back of your tongue.
Why is this important?
If you can stimulate cranial nerve 9, #8 will also be stimulated which will lead to improved balance. Your glossopharyngeal nerve will fire up because it’s picking up sensations on the back of your tongue. That action with that nerve can also help fire up your vestibular nerve.
Sometimes your balance needs a bit of a boost from the nervous system more than anything else.
Find a balance stance, and try rubbing the back of your tongue on the roof of your mouth in a circle. It may seem weird, and like voodoo but give it a try. You might be surprised that it works.
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