A huge component of our athletic output is often thought of as the strength of our muscles. While this is important, the neural connection between brain and muscle which dictates resting tone, contraction, relaxation and the speed at which the muscle adapts is really the crux of our ability to generate force. This is why speed and strength gyms that understand and focus on neurology are crushing the game today.
In the performance care world, we often say your brain can’t perform and protect at the same time. That is to mean, if you are injured, the brain will not permit an athletic maneuver through those areas involved out of fear of causing further damage to your body. It will instead guard and compensate to offer stability to this area it has deemed unstable, inflamed etc., which we perceive as a muscle spasm. In addition to this red alert spasm mode, the brain can also dial down speeds of contraction, to keep you from generating too much force for the injured area to handle. We perceive this as “losing a step, feeling sluggish, or just fatigue etc. Anyone who has ever taken a concussion can relate to the feeling of unathleticism that often follows weeks later on the field.
Assuming your body is ready for it, our work is to train your brain to trust these pathways and firing patterns that have let you down before. By first addressing the reason there was delay through neuro-stimulating interventions, the next step is gradually showing the brain it is okay. This is mostly a mental game of having you move through a pattern, realize there is no pain, do it again gradually harder and faster until we break through that subconscious guarding that once had a very important purpose, but is no longer serving you a year after your ankle sprain.
The result is you move in an optimal pattern, generate force appropriately without over or underloading involved structures. You regain your speed and perceive your body to be faster stronger and lighter. When you see the value in addressing these patterns and finally choose to do something about it you are one step closer to your most athletic self.
If you would like to learn more about how we do this for patients every day, please visit our website to receive a more in-depth explanation.