Tuesday 25 June 2019

Injury or Adaptation post 2

In the last post I talked about how our daily lives - whether it be sitting in front of a monitor, welding, or bending over young children -involve a lot of repetitive action. The body adapts to this repetitive action by adding support for those often repeated moves. Our bodies intelligently strengthen the most used muscle systems and lay extra tissue where there is most stress.

Similarly if  we train for a sport our bodies adapt by adding strength where we require it. This highly intelligent adaptation allows us to train, become stronger, more efficient and highly skilled, but it has a couple of drawbacks.

The first issue is explained in the last blog. If we do not balance this adaptation process, things can go wrong.

The second is how this intelligent adaptation can inhibit us returning to full functionality after an injury.

Consider every movement that we perform as a set of neurological instructions. Imagine those instructions forming pathways in the nervous system. The paths we used most often become big open highways, well developed and easy to find. Newer movements are tiny little broken tracks until we perform them repeatedly and thus create bigger paths, which is in fact a movement skill. The more random movement we perform, the more track we lay, the more roads we build and the better we become at movement. This is movement intelligence.

So to illustrate how this goes wrong, a simple example would be:-

Seeley damages her right ankle. She has a plaster over the ankle and she has to hobble on her left leg and foot for some weeks. Seeley's left leg, ankle and foot become stronger, they adapt. She has effectively trained her left leg to work more. In time, Seeley becomes adept at hopping and hobbling, although her back may hurt initially from the uneven and unaccostomed strain. Once the plaster is removed the ankle is still painful. This is no big problem as Seeley has a strong left leg, it takes the strain when she climbs the stairs and lifts things. As time goes on Seeley's ankle becomes fully healed but by then Seeley is so accostomed to overusing the left side that she is still stepping from the left, lifting from the left and generally prefering that side. The right is weak and she has lost confidence in it.

Seeley' brain has made new nerurological paths, it has found new routes to make movement occur and as that has been happening a while those new routes have become dominant. They are her brain's preferred pathway.

The problem is that the added strain is now taking it's toll on her left side - the power in this side, now so much more than the other, is literally pulling her out of shape, stressing muscle and joint systems.
Seeley has recovered but she is in pain!

To bring dynamic balance back into her body, Seeley will have to mindfully work the weak side. She will have to force it to be the lead leg with focussed awareness and breathe until it becomes as strong as the now powerful left side.

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