Have you ever wondered how the body orchestrates itself? Ever asked the question; how a thought turns into an action? You think, “Kick the ball.” Then you do!
This complicated system we call a body, able to perform feats of strength or paint a beautiful picture is coordinated by the Nervous System, whose primary role is to organize all activities of the body, enabling us to respond and adapt to changes.
To begin it is important to understand the basic structures of the Nervous System before describing how practitioners at the Athletic Training Institute improve the function of the Nervous System.
The Nervous System can be divided into two major divisions, which include the Central Nervous System (CNS) and Peripheral Nervous System (PNS). The CNS consists of two sections, the spinal cord and the brain and together they are the processing center of the body. The brain consists of 6 main structures including the Cerebrum, Cerebellum, Diencephalon, Midbrain, Pons, and the Medulla Oblongata. Continuing down the spine, the spinal cord Is the link between the brain and the nerves throughout body. It can be divided into regions, including the cervical, thoracic, lumbar and spinal nerves. These spinal nerves include the Afferent nerves, which carry information to the brain, and Efferent nerves which carries information from the brain to the body. The afferent and efferent nerves form the peripheral nerves and the Peripheral Nervous System.
The Peripheral Nervous system regulates the function of the Central Nervous System and lies outside the brain and spinal cord. The PNS is divided into the Somatic system, which is responsible for carrying motor and sensory information, and the autonomic nervous system which is responsible for controlling non-conscious functions in the body.
As stated, the Nervous System’s primary role is to coordinate all activities of the body. In particular, the Nervous System processes information that it receives (afferent signals) through our senses and with that information it triggers certain responses (e.g., muscle contraction).
This process of sensory input to the brain is critical for motor output and a properly functioning system. For instance, have you ever had muscle tightness, muscle pain, or decreased range of motion? These symptoms occur when compensation patterns happen. Compensation occurs when there is a miscommunication between the inputs the CNS receives and the output reactions the CNS triggers. When you move in a compensatory state, you are placing your system in a realm for potential injury. This happens because some muscles are overworking to take up the slack from the inhibited muscles that are not being properly triggered.
What impacts the ability to move? What causes tightness, pain, decreased range of motion?
The answer- inhibited sensory input to the brain.
Nobel prize winner, neurophysiologist, and researcher, Charles Scott Sherrington discovered that without sensory input motor output was diminished. In his research, when sensory nerves were severed but motor nerves were unharmed in rhesus monkeys, they stopped using the affected limb. However, when the motor area in the brain was stimulated the monkeys displayed normal activation of the associated limb. Charles research indicated that if the nervous system is not receiving proper inputs from the senses, motor function is diminished.
How does this apply to you? Through Charles’ research we can conclude that when we lack motion or experience symptoms such as tightness, the issue lies within the ability for sensory information to be relayed to the brain. For this reason many people seek the specialization of Muscle Activation Technique practitioners to improve their movement, coordination and reduce symptoms of pain, tightness, and loss in range of motion. Muscle Activation Technique specialists improve these symptoms because MAT seeks to optimize the communication pathways or sensory input of muscles to the brain, so the brain can then send proper communication.
At the Athletic Training Institute, we specialize in Muscle Activation Techniques, and with this expertise our goal is to get your body out of compensatory state, so you go through life thriving not just surviving.
Introduction to the Nervous System