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Why is my therapist getting me to roll a marble on a plate?!

Have a think about what you have to do to throw and catch a ball… You have to prepare your stance, positioning your legs, hips and shoulders at the right angle. You then have to grip the ball and lift your arm, holding the ball back at the correct height. And then in a coordinated motion you have to step forward, rotate your shoulder, bring your arm through and release the ball at the correct time… and that is just to throw it! Clearly, it is a complex skill that requires the coordination of multiple muscles, joints and systems (such as nerves and sight). This coordination is provided by something called neuromuscular control.

What is Neuromuscular Control?

Neuromuscular control is an essential skill that your body uses to move and work. Neuromuscular control is defined as the trained response of a muscle to a signal regarding dynamic joint stability. It can be conscious (you are aware you are activating the muscle) or unconscious (your body automatically activates the muscle without you realising it occurs). With normal neuromuscular control, messages are sent from joints and muscles back to the brain about where your limb is so that you can carry out normal movements and everyday tasks. This enables your body to be ‘coordinated’. One example is when carrying a glass of water, your brain ensures the muscles activate evenly and at the right time to make sure you don’t spill a drop. Think about putting this glass of water on the table – neuromuscular control ensures your hand releases it at the right time whilst placing it gently on the table.

Why do I need to practice this?

This control can be affected by disease or injury, such as a fracture or sprain to the wrist, or immobilisation in a cast or splint. Without proper attention, the body part will continue to feel clumsy, unstable and weak. Doing everyday tasks with your injured side often becomes difficult, and you may find you have to concentrate and watch the hand do the task.

How can I improve my control?

Your therapist will prescribe a program that is appropriate for your injury and how difficult the exercises are. Some common activities include:

· Rolling on a ball

· Weight bearing on a floatable ball/balloon on water

· Weight bearing on wall with hot water bottle

· Rolling marble/ball on a plate/tennis racquet/frying pan/pizza tray

· Tracing a picture on the wall with a penlight/laser/torch

· Bounce a footy

Wrist pain from an instability or lack of balance between ligament and muscles is not uncommon. We have a great wrist rehab program that can help firstly diagnose what is going on, and then provide the right exercises to regain your wrist control and reduce your pain.

If you have concerns about your control or stability of your upper limb, our therapists can help! Book online today through our home page.


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