This week, enjoy a clip from our Essentials of Elite Performance course.
Alright guys, we’re going to begin our discussion on the neurology fundamentals with a pretty simple idea conceptually, but if you spend some time on it, it’s fairly profound in relationship to what we do for a living, which is try to help people change.
So I like to always begin our conversation with this idea of you are your brain, right? Everything you’ve ever felt or done in your life was due to brain function. I can just stop there.
The first time I considered this idea, it hit me quite profoundly, right? Everything you’ve ever felt or done in your life was due to brain function.
Think about every pain you’ve ever experienced, your knee pain, brain function, foot pain, brain function, back pain, brain function, happy, brain function, depressed, brain function, hit a home run, brain function. Everything you’ve ever felt or done was due to brain function.
When you think about that as a movement professional, it should motivate you to become an expert in the brain. It’s a very very again simple yet profound idea.
At the most basic level, the intricate firing rates and patterns of your brain both determined who you have been and more importantly who you will become, who you will become.
All human change represents changes in that individual’s nervous system. All that we are is brain derived.
This is again is one of my, it’s my favorite kind of establishing quote whenever we start to think about who we are as a system, why we do what we do, everything that we’ve ever done, everything we’ve ever felt is about brain function, and more importantly, who we’re going to become? Are we going to become a depressed, angry, bitter person in pain?
Or as we age, are we going to become more mobile, stronger, maybe more positive in our outlook on life?
All of that is related to how our brain is developed, how it is challenged. And in this particular context, we want you to remember or think about this idea of what is called neural plasticity.
Years ago and it’s funny, because I talk about this because I still have textbooks from whenever I was in school, back when brontosarus was still roaming the earth and those textbooks actually they’re, you know, 30, 40 years out of date. And the sections of neurology were very interesting because they basically said things like the human brain develops to the age of roughly 24 to 26 years old and then development stops, and that was the end of the sentence. Like you’re done, it’s just straight down to the grave from there, nothing’s going to happen. And thankfully really since, well, it’s been in discussion for a very long time now over 100 years, but really over the last 30 or 40 years, it’s become very evident through brain imaging studies that that’s not the case. The human brain is constantly in a state of flux.
Your brain is constantly in a state of flux. It’s changing right now because you’re studying, you’re listening, you’re learning, and that term is called neural plasticity. Sometimes you’ll see it neuroplasticity in the literature, they go back and forth with these different changes in wording, it’s the same idea. The basic idea is that brain plasticity occurs. The brain, the human brain is bendy, it is flexible, it can be altered and changed often very quickly through different forms of activation and stimulation.
At the Essentials level in Z-Health, we highly recommend that you read this one book on neuroplasticity. It is probably one of the most interesting books that you’ll get an opportunity to dive into that’s not super complicated.
It’s by Norman Doidge, who has been fascinated with the brain and neuroplasticity for a long time, it’s written for the general public, but it is an adventure in coolness. That’s the easiest way for me to say it. It is so interesting to read about the brilliant people around the world, who have recognized the idea that we can change the organization function of the human brain through specific stimulus. And in fact, if you get, you know, if you’re interested in this, one of the first stories that you will read about is the concept of utilizing what is called sensory substitution for people who are blind. And in that particular instance, they talk about a technology that uses stimulation on the tongue to help blind people see.
That how cool the human brain is.
You can actually go watch YouTube videos and all this stuff. The human brain is incredibly adaptable and it’s all down to this idea of plasticity. Now I do not want you to make the mistake however of thinking that neuroplasticity is only a good thing.
We discuss this in all of our courses. Plasticity just is, it is a physiological fact, it is neither good nor bad, it’s just happening. So as we move through the course, what I will constantly remind you of is that you are reshaping your brain, you are reshaping the brain of your clients by the activities that you choose to do and by the way in which you perform them.
So plasticity, as I said, has no judgment on it. If you want to sit in front of your TV and eat potato chips all day, your brain will make you better at that. Will go, all right, I got it, I like these chips. So you’ll just do that. You’ll become better and better at that and actual changes will occur in your central nervous system to make you improve at that particular behavior. If you want to be depressed all the time, plasticity occurs.
So we call that maladaptive plasticity. So often when we are seeing people with movement problems, pain issues, behavioral issues, we view that as a maladaptive plasticity, they become good at something they don’t want to be good at.
And so our job then is to help shape the brain in a different way through utilizing a variety of different tools. So everything that we are is brain-derived, and the cool part to remember is that we can change the brain through specific work.