Brain Benefits of Using Non-Dominant Hands
The first sport I ever played organized was soccer, typical to most American kids, and as far back as I can remember my father always encouraged me to practice kicking with my left foot. “You’ve gotta be able to kick with your left,” he’d insist, never in a stern disciplinary way, but with his characteristic warmth, just a piece of advice from a guy who played Division 1 soccer in college.
Although I’m confident I disobeyed much of Dad’s advice, especially in adolescence, this was a piece that I heeded, and throughout high school I always had a starting place on the team, whether at left halfback, left fullback, or forward. There were only so many lefties on the team, so the coach loved that I was relatively ambidextrous. I was never a spectacular player, but I was solid, and one of my advantages against any defender as I raced down the wing of the field was that he never knew which foot I’d try crossing the ball to center with. This advantage yielded many assists for me over the years, a source of great pride and a great lesson in the way of BALANCE.
There are no conclusive scientific studies I am aware of that confirm using one’s non-dominant hand (or foot) benefits the opposite side of the brain, nor that it necessarily encourages healthy neuroplasticity (our brain’s capacity to change based on newly learned habits); but as a self-proclaimed Taoist, I cannot imagine the undertaking of discipline and subsequent improvement at a particularly challenging endeavor being anything but beneficial. My opinion is the reason there are little to no conclusive studies is it is the kind of practice that requires decades of observation by which to observe indisputable transformation.
Now at the age of 43 I’ve already injured fingers in each hand, though the injury to my right (dominant) is worse. I obviously use my hands a great deal in work, in cooking or cleaning at home, and even as I type this blog to you. My father and soccer teacher, whose genetics my physical body has mostly expressed thus far, also suffered with awful arthritis in his hands for his last decade of life. My aim is to do my best to avoid this.
Toward this end I try to unburden my right hand as often as is realistically possible, and in the process train my left hand for possible future requirement. I may or may not be creating neuroplasticity in the process, but it seems like a logical choice in planning physically ahead. I open doors, drawers, and sauce jars with my left, I replace the table paper on my massage tables in the opposite direction now, and when I remember I try holding my fork with my left hand during meals. I’ve heard other recommendations by neurological aficionados, such as brushing one’s teeth with our non-dominant hand, however I do not see the logic in compromising dental (or any form of) hygiene for the sake of speculative neurological benefit.
With every quarter that passes we are working more and more with “scalp acupuncture” and the brain regions in our office. If you or a loved one are dealing with any concerns in this area, please do not hesitate to CONTACT US. Best wishes to all!