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Balance between cultures: equilibrium training

posted 5 Jun 2012 16:06 by NicolaAvery .
http://neuroanthropology.net/2008/11/30/balance-between-cultures-equilibrium-training/

Capoeira - range of inverted exercises (e.g. headstands, handstands), but not static with head down like gymnast instead - chin tucked in facing any opponent and not in a 'held' posture.

"Most gymnasts focus their eyes on the ‘cliff edge,’ a visual anchor point about five centimetres in front of the wrists and equidistant between them (Clement, Pozzo and Berhoz 1988). Gauthier and colleagues (2007) found under experimental conditions that vision, both focal and peripheral, accounts for approximately 47% of balance in a handstand, but that the proprioceptive sense of one’s own neck was also significant, helping maintain balance when the head is flexed backwards (the Olympic head positioning) (see also Clement and Rezette 1985). Steven Vogel (2001:82-83) points to the high concentration of muscle spindles in the nape of our necks, the stationary position of the head in vigorous movements, and the head-first righting reflex of many animals to suggest that head position is a crucial link between vestibular information in the head and the whole body’s position"

Successful capoeira movement - use of hands and hand movements and bending elbows - suggests that equilibrium is plastic neural networks - sensory inputs differently weighted that interpret, process information - translating to behavioural patterns,

(reference list at end of article)

Also Proprioception and Kinaesthetic Awareness - Weakness with a Twist, http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/1699

"The proprioception sensory system is carried out utilizing proprioceptors in the muscles that monitor length, tension, pressure, and noxious stimuli. The muscle spindles, the most complex and studied of the proprioceptors, informs other neurons of the length of the muscle and the velocity of the stretch. The density of muscle spindles within a muscle increases for muscles involved in fine movements, as opposed to those involved in larger course movements. The brain needs input from many of these spindles in order to register changes in angle and position that the muscle has accomplished"
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