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Your Brain's Toolbox

Brain's Toolbox.png

Your Brain's Toolbox

By Shane Sauer

The better you move, the better you feel and, in return, life becomes a little easier.  In my last blog, “What is your workout missing?”, I introduced the idea that movement is the last of three steps in brain function:

  1. Receive information from the body and the environment.
  2. Interpret this information based on previous experiences.
  3. Create an action (movement, speech, thought, etc.) based on the interpretation.

So, if you want to move better, you need to train more than just your muscles.  You also need to train your brain’s ability to (1) receive and (2) interpret information.

At this point, you’re likely thinking, “Great! How in the world do I do that?” Well, let’s start with identifying the tools your brain has at its disposal for step 1: receive information:

  • Vision System - Vision is the tool you know by name.  Of these three tools, it is the one that you rely on the most.  All you have to do is close your eyes while you’re moving around and you know how important vision is.  That being said, there is a good chance you take your vision for granted.  Good vision is a lot more than being able to read some letters at a 20 foot distance.  Your vision needs to be clear as your environment changes.  If you don’t believe how important vision training can be, check out this quick video.
  • Vestibular System - You might be more familiar with the vestibular system if I refer to it as your inner ear. The inner ear is super important for balance because it informs your brain of your head position relative to gravity and how fast you are turning. If the information coming from this tool is bad, it could affect your posture or even make your world appear unstable (keep your sound low).
  • Proprioceptive System - Proprioception literally means having "perception of yourself". This tool informs your brain of everything your body is feeling: the pressure and warmth of a hug or the pain and soreness of a good workout.  Proprioception also helps your brain figure out where your arm is relative to your leg or your head. And that’s information you’ll need the next time you take a yoga class or play twister!

If you’re wondering why only one of your five senses is listed, don’t worry, the other four are all wrapped up in the other systems.  In future blogs, when I go into some more detail about these tools, I’ll explain where they fit in.  I’ll also give you some ideas about how you can train to use these tools better.  For now, just experiment with moving your eyes or turning your head when you walk and see how that changes the experience.

Check out this video that exapnds on and takes a deeper look at the information presented in this blog.
You can find also find other videos from MATRIX Personalized Fitness on YouTube.