Ep. 047 – Write and Draw With Your Non-Dominant Hand

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Good morning and welcome to Episode 047 of the Train Your Brain Podcast with Dr. Michael Trayford. Every Monday we produce a 30-minute episode. Tuesday through Sunday we produce episodes with five-minute tips. Every episode of the Train Your Brain Podcast features a tip, so you can receive pointers 365 days a year that will help enhance the performance of your brain!

In Episode 047, Dr. Trayford shares a simple action that will get your brain working in a new way. Pick up a pen and write or draw with your non-dominant hand. It may feel strange at first, but with practice you’ll become more comfortable. This activity will develop the side of your brain that you don’t use as much, and you may find that certain problem-solving or creative skills develop, too!

If you have any concerns regarding the information and applications discussed in this podcast, please consult your physician and a doctor who is experienced in functional neurology. Michael Trayford DC, DACNB is available for consultation by calling (828) 708-5274. Thanks for listening.

It is estimated that around 87% of the human population is right handed. Hand dominance typically means that you perform the majority of mechanical tasks with one hand. People tend to do things like write, eat, and perform basic tasks with their dominant hand, while the subordinate hand merely assists. So even if you’re right hand dominant and your left hand is holding a screw, you still use your right hand to turn the screwdriver.

Hand dominance also extends to brain function. People that are right handed often tend to have a left brain dominance. This hemisphere of the brain is strongly associated with aspects of language. This correlates nicely with writing and communication through our right hand. The right hemisphere of the brain, is associated with more creative or abstract thinking. It’s the part of your brain that builds big pictures and deals with complex and interrelated concepts.

If you’re right handed and you’re not using your left hand as much, the skills associated with the right hemisphere of the brain are slightly less developed. When you try to perform tasks with your left hand, or non-dominant hand, you are stimulating new parts of your brain.

It’s estimated that around 1% of the population is ambidextrous. When we look at the brains of these people we find that they are a little bit more brain balanced. A little bit less dominant, so to speak in one hemisphere versus the other.

Stimulating the non-dominant hemisphere of your brain can start with simple exercises. All you have to do is take a pen or a pencil and simply start to write. It doesn’t necessarily have to be anything especially eloquent.

If writing feels a little too awkward you could also try drawing. It doesn’t have to be a complicated subject matter. You can start by drawing circles, squares and triangles. Once you are a little more proficient with those basic shapes, you can try to combine them. Use three circles to draw a snowman. Draw a long rectangle with triangle on top to look somewhat like a flower.

There have been many historical figures that have practiced non-dominant hand related brain training. One of the best examples is Leonardo da Vinci. He made purposeful efforts to learn to write and draw with both hands, in a sort of rudimentary form of brain training. He would often write and draw with both hands, backwards, forwards and upside down.

In his life, Da Vinci is what’s known as a polymath. A person who has a diverse range of skills that they are highly proficient with. In modern terms we tend to call a person like this a Renaissance Man. He was an incredible scientist, engineer, spokesman and artist. Even though these vocations have very opposing types of skills, Da Vinci was still very good at all of them.

He was known for his inventiveness and big picture thinking, coupled with an incredible attention to detail. They simply don’t make too many individuals like that. He was probably the inventor of brain training. We need to look at that a little bit more to consider giving him the credit he deserves as being the father of brain training if you will.

Da Vinci is just one salient example among many people that has benefited from training their non-dominant hand. There are martial arts instructors who work on training their non-dominant hemisphere through writing and movements, to develop every corner of their brain and maximize brain function.

These people excel in so many aspects of life, because they develop both sides of their brain fairly equally. When they come through brain training programs like ours, they’re much more effective and successful at them because they do have this high level of brain balance to begin with.

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2 thoughts on “Ep. 047 – Write and Draw With Your Non-Dominant Hand

  1. Hi Dr Trayford, I have been catching up on all of your podcasts these are awesome and I am learning so much! Brendan and I are curious as to how modern day typing has changed this right\left brain balance as now most young people never hand write anymore but they type on a computer with both hands or even more often type on their phone with both thumbs.

    • Hello Liz:

      Glad you are enjoying the podcasts!

      Fantastic question about the newer generations and typing vs. writing with regard to brain development. This is a large scale challenge that is being looked at by many and I am uncertain of any solid data out there to show what it’s doing to R/L brain balance. Many folks have a dominance when they type, so as a challenge (when not under a deadline), one can type with the non-dominant hand to bring those skills up to par with the dominant side.

      With regard to texting and the thumbs – that’s a whole other ball game! They are using those fairly equally, although they are over-developing areas of their brain (maps) that are already quite large to begin with. We still don’t know what might happen with that – but it will most likely not come without a consequence.

      I’d love to bring this up in a future episode sometime – thanks again for the great question.

      It is largely in the hands of the parents to engage their children in writing and

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