I teach a lot about the nervous system. Biofeedback based training utilizes nervous system function. But THE MOVEMENT in no way is neuro-centric.
Whenever we think of the central nervous system, especially the brain, we think of a central controller. I think this in inaccurate. It would be more accurate to think of it like a central “server.”
I don’t mean how computers have servers, so to speak. I mean like a servant. But what is the brain serving?
If your brain was exposed and cut into, would you feel pain (in the brain)? No, you wouldn’t. And that interesting factoid speaks to the relationship the apex of the Nervous System has with the rest of the body.
The nervous system is more referential (and deferential) to the body. All of its sensations and motions help to protect the body (through facilitation and inhibition). It isn’t a homunculus, running the show behind bony armor. It’s a specialized communication center with centralized control that bows to localized decentralized control (we could all take a lesson here politically).
Part of the local controls have to do with protecting the MSK system. If you get to close to your end ROM, the local nervous system puts the brakes on…requiring you to change directions. Because if you kept going, it’s not that you’d necessarily damage the nervous system (although eventually you would), it’s that you’d first damage what the nervous system is protecting: the rest of the bodily tissue.
When your tissue is approaching its maximum range of motion, it requires a change of direction. Another way to say it is: Change of direction at end Range of Motion. Thus, COD EROM.
COD EROM should be the primary focus on your training. Changing direction at (relative) end range of motion. Here’s why.
While the body has absolute ranges of motion, what we most often encounter is our relative EROMs. They’re not only relative to everyone else’s, but relative to themselves. You know this intuitively: you can lose ROM…or gain it.
How do we lose ROM? It could be injury but usually it’s something less nefarious. Your next answer might be “age.”
Age is one of the ways in which we lose ROM. In fact, age might be best looked at as a progressive loss of ROM, not just in the musculoskeletal system, but the organ systems, as well. But that ROM loss might have a simpler explanation.
There are arthritic changes in a joint within days of immobilization. Structurally, the joint becomes less mobile. This points us to a simple principle.
Whenever there is disuse of a ROM, we lose that ROM. “Use it or lose it.” As our ROM shrinks, so must our end ROM.
How do we gain back that ROM? Is it forever lost? No, going in reverse can be reversed.
But before we get to how to gain ROM, we have to revisit the last way we lose ROM. Whenever we move out body too much out of balance, the body puts on the brakes.
We cannot take off those brakes by trying to force our way past our own relative limits. That creates a conscious push against an unconscious pull. We have to be patient and simply work with what our body gives us. And as we work within our relative limits, the body lets periodically lets off the brakes.
We can regain what once was restrained. And regaining ROM comes down to one simple, yet seemingly counterintuitive practice. As we approach our (relative) end Rom, we have to change direction.
We can move directly back from whence we came. Or we can go back indirectly. But we can only go so far in one direction at any time. And if we want to ultimately go further in one direction, it requires us to change directions over and over again.