Side Dominance

I guess the last time I had formal dance lessons I was in elementary school, when (like so many girl children) I was shepherded through a course of them as a substitute for physical deportment lessons. And I never really lost the habit of dancing; I like it, and don’t really care if I’m good at it or not. Watching Glee has made me realize that dancing is fun and exercise, though, so I’ve been doing it more often. And that made me wonder: “Am I any good at it? Really?”

So I steeled myself and put on headphones and danced in front of a mirror, and the verdict is: I won’t shame myself, which is fine; that’s all I want. Far more interesting to me, though, was the huge difference in the dexterity and precision of the movements of the entire left side of my body.

Now, my right hand, I was expecting to be more fluid and agile than my left. I’ve been doing nothing but honing precision skills with my right hand all my life, so it didn’t surprise me that my left hand wasn’t up to that. But for my right shoulder, hip, knee and ankle to also be better than their counterparts? Literally every joint?

I am intrigued. Now I wonder if I can bring my left side up to speed and what, if anything, that will do to how my brain works….

What about you all? Notice any distinct issues with handedness and it affecting one entire side of your body? Has anyone tried teaching themselves ambidexterity, and did it affect how you perceive things?

  1. I notice the same thing in taekwondo. It’s gotten a little more even over time, but there’s a very clear difference. I’m right-handed, and my right side is much stronger. However, one cool thing, my kicks are technically *better* on my left side. Since the left side is weaker and a bit more shaky, I think harder about making it correct. On the right side, I just throw kicks without much consideration. I’d guess maybe dancing would be similar if you were doing for really specific movements and patterns. I’d never even considered it until my teacher pointed it out. I’m sure you could train up to it.

  2. I’ve always had some ambidexterity — the two sides are not the SAME but they each have always had things I could do better or worse. I can tell you from my having taught taekwondo for over 20 years though that you can develop the lagging side and a lot of it is about stimulating the motor cortex on that side. One trick that seems to help the whole left side for right-handed people is to start brushing your teeth with your left hand. That little exercise, not even 5 minutes a day, engages both fine motor skills and balance, believe it or not. Combined with practice of whatever motion (kicking, dancing…) that uses both sides equally, or 2/3 the weak side and 1/3 the strong side if you really want to equalize them more quickly.

  3. catofalltrades

    I’ve taught myself to shoot pool and mouse with my left hand. I grew up playing piano, so my hands have different kinds of dexterity, but it’s been nice to have a hand for every occasion, so to speak. When I need something held steady, I use my left hand, which has been trained to move smoothly and steadily through chording and playing harmonies. When I need something done with fine detail and precision, I use my right, because I’m right-handed, among other things. :)

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