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  • Writer's pictureRyan Luby


Updated: Apr 4, 2018

One process that I have been most interested since I first learned about it is called cross-education.

Cross-education occurs by training one side of the body (single arm curls, single leg squats etc..) and if you only trained say your right arm or right leg, of course they experience strength gains and recovery in the trained side but also due to cross-education your untrained left side experiences some benefits (roughly 7.8% as measured in studies).

This obviously is most important to remember for rehabilitation and recovery from injury.

If you break your left leg, you should be extremely focused on everything you can do in general for recovery but especially in doing simple balancing exercises, stretches, strength exercises with your healthy right leg. Understand that this could have major benefits and could greatly affect how you heal.

People overlook this in health all the time, but the application of cross-education is also overlooked constantly in life as well.

If your goal is to become a painter… you might assume taking strictly painting classes, internships, jobs at an art studio are all that you should do. Especially if you talk to anyone around you they will lead you to believe this as well.

Don’t get confused. People don’t understand or take into account cross-education. It’s not only beneficial to gain experience, and take classes in other interests or different subjects if you want to become better at your focus.. It’s crucial.

Plenty of athletes learn a lot from taking up golf in their down-time/ off-season. Yea maybe they are smart and making excuses so they can play more golf.. But it’s true that some athletes really do learn patience, and how to handle pressure, control their emotions and more from practicing golf. These skills won’t just help an athlete they help anyone be better in life.

Maybe you still aren’t seeing the connection.

A few years ago I learned about how common depression was among nurses especially in the early to mid 20th century.

Not surprisingly the issue kept growing with little relief from any common healthcare practices.. (maybe we should take a hint from history and understand modern healthcare doesn’t work well for mental illness)

It wasn’t until someone introduced and encouraged writing and poetry to a group of nurses. Not only did the nurses quickly experience relief.. But due to their experiences many of them wrote some amazing stuff.

Their experiences proved not only did writing cross-educate them to be healthier and become better nurses, but nursing cross-educated them to become better writers.

I strongly believe this is the case for everyone.. You can’t guess what will make you a better artist, engineer, teacher, athlete whatever.. No one can. Sure you need plenty of practice, and training in the area you’re interested. But don’t underestimate the benefits of cross-education.

You might catch yourself not doing something, or feeling like you’re wasting time because you don’t see the connection between what you’re doing and what you want to do.

Just remember a lot of people in the gym doing right arm curls aren’t thinking about the muscle they are developing in their left arm.

Don’t dwell on trying to do the right thing, and trying to take the clear path to anywhere. It doesn’t exist. Understand there are great connections between everything we do, even if we aren’t aware of them yet.

Learn more on this:

Study: Cross education study

Website: Nurses are angels (writing and poetry from nurses)

Study: Writing in nursing education

Article: Cross-training for athletes

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