Muscle Memory And The Brain-Body Connection

By Dr. Jeremy Steel
Published on Sep 9th, 2014

When you make every movement count, you know your training has paid off. Understanding the nervous system helps us to better understand the brain-body connection and can improve body awareness and conscious training so you can make every kick, block, and punch count.

When it comes to physical movement, the nervous system is the most important system in the human body. The brain is the master control center for the body including every organ, cell, and tissue. If we lose connection from the brain to any part of the body, that part will not function properly and will begin to die. The process of our muscles contracting when we throw a punch begins as a signal in the brain. This extremely fast signal is sent down our spinal cord, and then, out through a peripheral nerve to that muscle. For example, when our biceps contracts, it is a result of a signal from our brain. Simultaneously the brain sends unconscious signals to the stabilizing muscles which support that contraction.
When we train in a specific movement for a long period of time the connection from the brain to the muscle strengthens tremendously. The question to ask yourself is, "Am I training the right movements for a long enough period of time to prepare my brain for my next fight?"
When fighting, muscle memory is critically important. Without it, you will spend too much time thinking about your movements, and you won't have the stability or strength you need to be effective. Contrary to popular belief, the main component of muscle memory (neurological programming) does not happen in the muscle itself. It occurs in the brain. There are two important things that happen when we train our muscles with consistent intensity over a long period of time. First the neurons which control that muscle start to create more branches where they insert into the muscle. This strengthens the nerve signal thereby improving contraction and muscle fiber engagement when we move. Second, our brain begins to rewire itself. This occurs in the cerebellum at the base of our skull and the motor cortex (the section of the brain just above our ears). These neurons begin to rewire themselves strengthening and speeding up your ability to perform the trained movement. This rewiring also helps to keep the brain healthy and young as we age.
Next time you train, take a second to visualize the nerve signal developing in your brain. Then follow it as it travels down through the vertebra in your neck and out through peripheral nerves to the muscles in your arm. Then throw that punch and know that you made it count!

Filed under Philosophy and Opinion

Author Bio :: Dr. Jeremy Steel

Dr. Jeremy Steel's fascination for the human frame and how it works developed at a young age when he began studying and training in various forms of martial arts which included Karate, Wrestling, Jujitsu, Boxing, Capoeira, and Wing Chun. This helped lead him to dive deep into the studies of human engineering including anatomy, physiology, and neurology. Since receiving his doctorate in chiropractic in 2010 he has been applying that wisdom to help people from all walks of life live a more fulfilled, active, and healthy life.

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