Now let’s talk about movement patterns.
When the brain learns a new movement you have to think really hard to get it right, remember learning to ride a bike? Or performing delicate movements like knitting or tying your shoes? The first few times you tried the focus needed was extreme, the prefrontal cortex of your brain works really hard to best achieve this new goal. Then as time passes and you practise, it becomes smother, easier and requires less thought. This is because when you repeat a movement many times you nervous system adapts, it likes to be as efficient as possible because making quick decisions is good for survival. This creates what we know as muscle memory, the movement becomes automatic and control of it shifts to lower parts of the brain. This allows you to focus on new things that require your attention, you no longer need to think about balancing on the bike, controlling your needles or the tension in the knot of your favourite trainers.
Research shows that you can practice motor skills and improve learned movement patterns without actually moving. By visualising yourself performing these movements the brain reacts as if you are physically performing the action, incredible right!?!
Now what do you think happens when a unhealthy or damaging pattern of movement becomes subconscious? Let’s say someone’s desk wasn’t set up very well and they had to hunch over a little to use the keyboard and see the screen well. Day after day they sit with their chin tucked down and shoulders hunched over, repeating the motion time and time again, the nervous system adapts and continues carrying out the motion without them realising it’s happening. The neck and shoulders are now held in this new position, constantly creating a steady low level of tension. No matter how hard they try they cannot relax it consciously as the posture is now the muscles new normal. This is called Sensory Muscle amnesia and it’s responsible for the stiffness and aches that we write off as ageing.
But how to Fix it??? Read the next post to find out.