Episode 137: Strength and the Threat Bucket

Today we’re beginning a series of videos to help us focus on becoming smarter, about becoming stronger.

In Z-Health we work with professional athletes, week-end warriors, people in pain, people going through rehabilitation and one of the most common question that we get is, how does strength, how does becoming stronger play a role in helping me get better? Today what I want to talk about is what we call the threat bucket in Z-Health. The threat bucket is derived out of emerging research around pain and performance and how our brain and body interact.

We’re done videos on this before but if you haven’t seen it, let me discuss this with you really quickly. We’re going to start off … We’re going to draw a bucket here on the screen and this bucket is going to represent the container living in your brain that takes in all the information from your life. Why this is really important is this bucket is going to have a valve, it’s going to have an output arena. As you’re going through your daily life, you’re at work and you’re reading so you’re using your eyes. Your visual system or your eyes can place threats into your threat bucket.

Your brain’s main job is to keep you alive so it’s always watching and paying attention to all the inputs that are coming in, trying to decide how threatening these inputs are. Your eyes play a big role in that. If you have a balance disorder, maybe you have a balance issue, you have an inner ear problem, maybe you get motion sick, whatever. That can go into your threat bucket.

Now on top of that, obviously, how you move. When it comes to movement, you have your posture, you have your strength, you have your flexibility, your mobility, your coordination. All of those things are represented in moving.

Now, how you think, your emotional status, your relationships, I’ll just put that in there because everyone likes to bring this one up, in the threat bucket. Relationships, how’re your finances … So as you’re going through your life, your brain’s constantly monitoring all these things. Now, if things are working well in our brain, our brain and body are able to work together to keep our threat levels low.

If our threat levels are low, generally speaking, we have better performance in life, meaning our strength is good. We’re not in pain. We tend to be able to think well cognitively.

The big issue arises when our threat levels go up they may eventually reach a point where there is an output. Now this output can manifest in a bunch of different ways but generally what we see in our world is either people have pain or if you’re an athlete or you like to do sports or you like to work out at the gym, maybe your performance is suffering. That could be, “Ahh, I’ve hit strength plateau. I’m not losing weight like I should be. I’m not as fast on the bike,” et cetera, et cetera.

Like I said, people come to us in Z-Health for training around primarily these issues, pain and performance. The way that we evaluate this is we look at all the different factors as much as possible that go into the threat bucket and we say, “Hey, if your balance is the issue, let’s fix the balance problem.” Because if we can fix the balance problem it will lower the threat below the output level and all of a sudden, maybe the pain goes away.

What we want to focus on in the next series of videos is a portion of movement. Now, if we start to talk about movement, we can break movement into a lot of different parts. You have your basic mobility. In other words, how flexible are you? How’s your coordination? How are your ranges of motion? Do your joints move like they’re supposed to? Mobility is a big component but another huge one and what we’re focusing on is your strength.

We always say there’s no substitute for being strong so we want to actually look at strength from a brain-body connection perspective and say, “What are the loops? How does the brain talk to the body? How does the body talk to the brain?”

By analyzing how that all works together, we’re going to get a very clear picture of changes that we may need to make in our strength training approach in order to maximize our results.

Now that we’ve talked about movement being broken down into mobility and strength, here’s where we’re headed. When it comes to strength there are three primary brain-body loops that we’re interested in. We’re going to be talking about number one, what’s called neural drive. Next we’re going to talk about strength coordination, that’s an R. Finally we’re going to be talking about preparation and prediction.

Now what all these mean is that we have specific neural pathways that are designed to take care of these things and our strength training programs need to address all three if we want to maximize our results.

That’s where we’re headed. If you have any questions about this particular topic you can let us know. Otherwise, stay tuned. I’ll talk to you soon.

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