Have you ever been called a klutz? Do you have bruises with unknown origins?
While clumsiness and frequent injuries could result from many things—coordination difficulties, absentmindedness, etc.—one cause that's often overlooked? ADHD.
ADHDers typically have difficulty sustaining focus, and accidents are bound to happen when people aren't paying attention. So, for example, we're more likely to miss or forget small details—like that box we set down in the hallway 'temporarily'—and then end up tripping over it.
But there's more to ADHD and clumsiness than you might think. A few things could be at play. Let's explore.
Too long; didn't read
- On average, ADHDers are more accident-prone than neurotypicals.
- ADHD brains have lower dopamine levels which can lead to issues with sensory processing, motor control, and movement.
- You can improve coordination with balancing exercises, fine motor activities, and medication.
Are you "clumsy," or do you have brain-based coordination difficulties?
Clumsiness can result from coordination difficulties, injuries, and just plain ol' bad luck. Of course, we all have that one friend who's constantly dropping stuff, making messes, and violently bumping into corners. (Door frames, anyone?) We might even be that friend ourselves!
In most cases, this is normal.
For some, however, clumsiness could indicate a neurological disorder. While many conditions cause coordination problems—including cerebral palsy, Parkinson's disease, and other genetic disorders—ADHD is a much more common cause.
The link between ADHD and clumsiness
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects 9.8% of children and 4.4% of adults.1 While it's most commonly diagnosed in childhood, it does persist into adulthood.
- Trouble focusing attention
- Lack of patience
ADHD and coordination problems
People with ADHD have lower dopamine levels, a neurotransmitter that plays a significant role in focus, motivation, and attention.2 This can lead to sensory processing difficulties, resulting in sensory overload.
Experts have suggested that ADHD testing should include motor skill assessments, as motor control is a common struggle for ADHDers, making them more accident-prone.3
ADHD and postural sway
Postural sway is the movement of our center of gravity when standing still. A small amount of sway is normal, but people with ADHD often have more significant postural sway.4
What does this mean for clumsy people?
It might not mean anything... but it could indicate a balance problem. And while this might not seem like a big deal, it can lead to an increased risk of falls—especially in older adults with ADHD.
The dangers of teen driving
Difficulty sustaining focus and motor skill issues make young ADHDers more dangerous when behind the wheel of a car.5
ADHDers have up to 47% higher rates of serious motor vehicle accidents.6 Combined with the inherent risk involved in driving as a teenager, this can be dangerous.
How to improve your balance and coordination
Clumsiness can't always be helped, but you can do a few things to improve your coordination.
Yoga can help improve balance and coordination by strengthening the mind-body connection.
Like yoga, Pilates increases muscle control and coordination. Pilates might be for you if you want something that engages your core muscles.
3. Balance exercises
Explore YouTube or Pinterest for balancing exercises to try at home. Over time, practice can improve proprioception, which is the body's ability to sense where it is in space.
4. Gross motor activities
Gross motor activities involve large muscle groups, like swimming, running, and biking. These activities can improve coordination by stimulating the vestibular system, which creates balance and spatial orientation.7
5. Fine motor activities
Improve coordination in smaller muscle groups with fine motor activities, like knitting, buttoning, and tying your shoes.
6. Evaluate your diet
A healthy diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains can help to improve attention and focus.
7. Explore ADHD medication options
When should you talk to a doctor?
Whether or not your clumsiness is worth investigating depends on how it affects your quality of life.
If you constantly injure yourself or notice other ADHD symptoms besides clumsiness, it might be worth talking to your doctor. There's no shame in seeking help.
Remember that there are plenty of ways to improve coordination and reduce the risk of accidents—even if you don't have ADHD.