Vestibular Development for Preschool and Older Gymnasts

Vestibular Development is a physical activity program that increasingly acclimates a child through and to a series of dizzying activities, which stress the brain. The goal and purpose of these exercises is to adapt to salto and twisting skills and cause the brain to grow (and possibly increase in capacity).

Potential Brain Growth

Preschool programs and gymnastics classes for young gymnasts ought to include a vestibular development program because of the potential for brain stimulation and growth. With brain growth there is the potential for increased brain capacity and increased brain function.

Stress the Brain and Stimulate Growth

Brain growth occurs in a similar manner to muscle growth. The brain is stressed by the vestibular movements and grows in adaptive response to the stress.

Great Potential for Growth

At the preschool age and up to age seven or eight, there is still great potential for usable brain growth and increased function. As gymnasts age, the effects in this area decrease and the program becomes useful primarily as a physiologic and kinesthetic adaptation to somersaults and twisting.

Let’s Get Dizzy

A Vestibular Development program consists of sets of dizzying activities (e.g. series of forward and backward rolls) should be worked in all planes – forward and backward, left and right.

Let’s Roll

The simplest set is simply to do a series of forward and backward rolls and both left and right log rolls. More complex variations could use equipment such as merry-go rounds.

Build Up the Stress Levels

The preschool athlete or young gymnast is started at a low number of repetitions and repetitions are increased over time. Stress occurs more quickly than you may expect, so be sure to keep numbers low in the beginning and the progressions slow so as not to overdo it.

Don’t Let Older Gymnasts Overdo It

Preschoolers and young athletes are more easily adaptable to the physical stresses and stress on the brain created by a Vestibular Development program than are older individuals. These exercises can be extremely tiring and can decrease mental functions and sharpness. Older athletes should not do and especially not overdo these exercises at the beginning of practices or they may find themselves unable to effectively work out.

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