Train your brain to get further
Make the spinal cord reflex arc work for you through holding and repetition
By understanding how our body moves from the inside, we can make the most of our stretches.
Many of our movements are done by the brain talking to the body. For example, if we want our hand to open and close its fingers, our brain will tell our fingers what to do. The brain isn’t the boss of all our body movements, though. Some of our body movements are primitive actions, such as heart functions, breathing, and reflexes. These actions happen automatically. To understand how to use these automatic actions to our benefit, we need to look at our bodies’ mechanics.
Within our bodies’ muscle fibers, are muscle spindles. A muscle spindle is a sensory receptor, meaning it reacts in a predetermined way, just like the primitive actions we mentioned before. A sensory receptor reacts based on a specific stimulus; a stimulus like stretching. When a muscle stretches, the muscle spindle talks to the spinal cord. The spinal cord in turn tells the muscle to contract and resist the stretch, this process is called the ‘spinal cord reflex arc’ and protects the muscle from tearing.
The spinal cord reflex arc may prevent a deeper stretch, because it pretty much panics about needing to protect us. When we hold a stretch for a prolonged amount of time, the muscle spindle comes to terms with what we are doing and calms down a bit. This is why it is often suggested to hold a stretch for at least a minute. You can quicken this process by easing in and out of a specific motion. Think about how in my classes, I will say to inhale up and exhale down when we are in lunge positions. By activating the opposite muscle group, the spinal cord reflex arc diminishes, like when we do our half split hamstring stretch, I will remind you to engage your quad muscle.
Need more information on how we can train our brains to get our bodies further?
Check out this video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqsNHbbJQJ4