This article originally appeared in the December 2019 edition of Senior Scope. Article by Cam Bergeron, CSCS, Cam’s Conditioning & Rehab. Photo by Seth Thomas.
One way you can improve your activities of daily living is to increase the activation between brain and body. This can be done by performing balance/mobility drills, resistance training exercises and being more aware of your body’s positioning while exercising.
Balance activities force you to concentrate. If you aren’t concentrating, you will lose your balance. Try focusing on something stationary (like an object hanging on the wall) when performing balance activities. This will help you stay focused and block out peripheral movements.
Mobility drills bring you through a range of motion that your body usually does not perform on a daily basis. Since they are foreign motions, you are forced to concentrate in order to complete the activity.
When I am instructing my Tai-Yo-Ba classes, I make sure the participants are always engaged and paying attention. I’ll scan the room to read body language to see who is double-checking their form. They may be moving correctly, but I am focusing on who is paying attention and who is just going through the motions.
Teaching a course in this manner provides participants better results. I keep them accountable to their actions.
If the brain and body are not in sync, it will be tougher to perform daily activities. Resistance training is a huge part of brain-to-body activation.
Did you know that the body does not begin to build muscle until the fourth, fifth or sixth week of consistent resistance training? When you start resistance training, within the first couple weeks you will notice you’re able to lift more weight.
Most people think this is due to increased muscle mass, but it’s actually due to activation of unused muscle fibers. This is called a neural adaptation to resistance training. When you don’t perform movement patterns, some muscle fibers are not activated. In other words: “if you don’t move it, you lose it.”
When you add weight to a movement pattern, it takes more fibers to complete. The body will involuntary recruit more fibers to help you lift the weight. Having great body awareness is important to muscle fiber activation. The more you pay attention to your body and how it’s positioned, the easier it will get.
It takes 66 days to begin creating a habit. After 18 months, you have rewired your brain for that habit.
When it comes to body awareness, the habit you are trying to create is to build muscle memory for correct body positioning. If you consistently control your body’s positioning, then your body will rewire your brain to make that position the “norm.” However, if there is a preexisting injury, you may need more than just proper body awareness to correct it.
Keeping the connection from brain to body will increase coordination, reaction time, balance and body awareness.