Certainly we all get confused from time to time. Where am I? What was I supposed to do next? How am I supposed to get out of this mess?
Maybe those are extremely global examples, but I am sure you can think of many of your own.
Muscle and Nerve Confusion
I can’t get you out of those situations, but I CAN offer some advice about making your muscles and nerves get confused from time to time. AND, contrary to the above situations, I hope to show you how muscle and nerve confusion can be a very, very, good thing. (For ease of writing, I will now call it “movement confusion”.)
Let’s take a minute to consider what a life is like that does not have movement confusion. Pretty dull. We might get up from a chair, shuffle to the fridge, get in our car to go somewhere; we walk around a bit, and then go back to our computer, book, or whatever. Maybe that’s overstated, but you get the idea.
In fact, our bodies and minds remember the things we do the most. This makes sense, of course. Sometimes that works well, but if we keep sticking to the same old patterns, we start to lose abilities and functions.
- Even if we continue to exercise, if we keep doing the same things over and over, we actually end up backsliding away from the benefits we get. For instance, if your strength training routine is always the same, you will actually lose strength over time. Our bodies need to be moved around in different ways in order to stay on the learning curve.
- Let’s say the strides you take when you walk get just a bit shorter over time. In that scenario, your hip flexors (muscles at the top of your thigh in front of your hips) are not going through the range of motion that they are capable of. Eventually, you may end up walking like this all the time. When your stride is diminished, your butt muscles can eventually shut down. Once that happens, it can be more difficult to walk fast, climb stairs, or get up from a chair.
- When you don’t move around much, your muscles can tighten up. Then, when you want to move more, it doesn’t feel very good, or you just can’t do it as well as you used to.
- When your muscles get bored, YOU can get bored. Or, at least de-energized.
Enough of the gloom and doom.
Here are some practical ideas for how to get more confused!
- Do things that feel awkward at first. This includes possibly going to a new exercise class, learning a new dance move, or trying some other new activity. On another level, you can even consider walking backwards sometimes, or taking really big strides forward. People don’t like to feel like they are failing, its just human nature. But, if you never did anything that you thought you might flunk, where would you be?
- Think about your body as a bunch of fluid. May sound weird, but please hear me out. Your body is mostly water. Aside from that, your muscles, nerves, and connective tissues are made to slide around. Also your joints have special tissues to help them move around so that your movements can be “fluid”. When you move in lots of different ways, it helps your tissues to keep sliding. (Aside: Often when you go to get a massage, a big part of what they do is getting your tissues to slide past each other again.)
- Think about all the things that your body can do. (You can find more on this in my blog, “Are You Getting Your Muscles to Multi-Task?”) There’s rolling, creeping, crawling, kneeling, squatting, stepping, walking, climbing, and running. There’s also balance, postural control, coordination, motor control, stamina, strength, power, explosive control, and using ground reaction forces. On top of all that, your body is equipped to be plastic, build new nerve pathways, repair itself, and learn new moves. Your body likes to be doing this, and so does your brain.
So go for it! Let your muscles and nerves get confused, give them a chance to learn some new things, stay fluid, and it MAY even help you with some of the other confusing things in your life! NO promises, but it can’t hurt…
© 2017 Kristen Carter. All rights reserved.