MATRIX Personalized Fitness
More than just your muscles


Are there parts of your body where you don't "feel" quite right? You should probably check. Sensation is critical for good movement and brain health. This video explains how you can figure out what you're lacking and provides you with a tool to fix it.

0:00 - Hey everybody, it's Shane from MATRIX. I'm finally back again. With us moving around and getting through the holidays, it's been a while since I've had a chance to shoot a video. But I'm happy to finally be back doing it.

0:11 - In today's video, what I want to talk to you about is sensation. It may not sound like the most interesting thing, but you'd be amazed at how important it really is for having good high quality movement skills. To describe this to you, I'm going to start by talking about the brain, of course.

0:25 - If you think about the pattern of the brain and where it gets its fuel, and how it spends its energy, we start first at the brainstem. It's first in line so it gets everything before any other part of the brain does. In the brainstem, that's where all of our autonomics live, our ability to sustain life, like our heart rate, breathing, those type of things.

0:46 - As we move up the chain, we then get to the back of the head, which is where our vision lives. So again, very important for our survival in the environment.

0:54 - As we continue moving forward through the brain, we finally get to our frontal lobe, which is where the things that make us human live; our ability to plan and make decisions. Although that is really important, it makes sense that that would kind of come last before basic life support systems.

1:10 -Now what's interesting is in the brain, sensory comes before motor; meaning that sensation is more important to survival, than is your movement. And it also means that if we have poor sensation, we're going to have poor movement skills.

1:25 - So today, what I'd like to challenge you to do is actually check your body's sensation. You can see him holding a towel and so, if you have somebody else check sensation for you, you don't necessarily have to use a tool like this. But one thing we want to avoid is you actually touching your own skin. Because the sensation from your hand, which is probably pretty good, would cancel out any bad sensations that you're noticing in other parts of your body.

1:48 - So here's how you might go about doing this. First thing we want to touch is, we want to test is light touch. So you can take your object, and then literally just go along the different parts of your body, making sure that everything feels similar. Don't forget not to skip your torso, down your legs and into your feet. What you might begin to notice is there certain areas that have either a kind of extra tickally sensation, so it would be hypersensitive. Or areas that are reduced, dull, or numb, and those are typically a lot of these areas occur around places where you've had previous injuries.

2:25 - So we tend to do a great job when we go to physical therapy of rehabbing our movement skills and our strength. But oftentimes you forget about sensation. And if you remember from the brain, it's more important. So what I want you to do is once you've identified where you feel a lack of sensation, you can then go try and rehab the sensation in that area by doing a drill that we call "painting".

2:47 - So if I noticed, after doing this test, that I was having a lack of sensation through my forearm here, what I could do is just visualize taking good sensation, and "painting" it into the bad sensation. And what I'm doing, is I'm retraining my brain to understand that what I'm doing here should feel exactly the same as what I'm doing here. And with practice, and over time, you actually begin to feel that sensation begin to blend in and return back to normal. And what is very interesting is you might begin to find that your ability to move different parts of your body, or chronic pain that you've been struggling with, can go away by increasing your sensation.

3:23 - Now, the last little piece I want to add here is, we have more than just our ability to feel light touch. There's lots of other sensations we have to work with. So if you have the tools to do it, you might think about checking vibration. So this is a tool that we use, but you could use like an electric toothbrush, or one of those little hand massages, you can pick up at like the dollar store to see if vibration is different throughout the body.

3:46 - We might also want to check heat. So I typically use you know the hot hands that you would put in your gloves. But you could use a heating pack or anything like that to find out if you're having some deficits in your heat sensation.

3:58 - Cold is another one too test as well.

4:01 - And lastly, it's also important to check if you can feel pain. So this is a little pinwheel that I use, it's not going to draw blood or anything like that. You can pick it up on Amazon for about six bucks. But it does check your ability to [actually, if you can] feel pain well in different areas. And it's really important that the ability to do so is even throughout the body. If you don't have one of these, you could try [like] a fork or a toothpick just to get that little pricking sensation to see if things are relevant all the way through.

4:30 - So, in recap, as far as anatomy goes, sensation comes before movement. So, you really want to check your body to make sure that you're feeling things well. And you might find that chronic pain or poor movement problems that you're having can be solved by [restoring] any type of sensation that might be missing. And the way we would do that is through "painting". Taking what's good, trying to paint it over the bad and teaching your brain and that's exactly what it's supposed to feel like.

4:57 - I hope you found this interesting. Please reach out with any question questions or comments, and I'll definitely be coming back to you with more stuff. Thanks for watching.