Using BioFeedback For “Better”

redlightgreenlightWhy is it that sometimes we don’t feel like going to the gym
but we go anyway (maybe because we think we should)?
We get hurt and in reflection say,
“I knew I shouldn’t have done that.”

And why is it that other times we don’t feel like going to the gym
but we go anyway and we leave feeling so much better?
How can we know when we should go to the gym
and when we shouldn’t?

This question is answered with the use of BioFeedback.
Biofeedback (not the kind with machines) is based on the idea that everything, including our movement, makes us better or worse…and that response can be measured.

When it comes to going to the gym,
the application of BioFeedback is very simple:
Perform or otherwise approximate a motion that you in the gym (unweighted).
Measure your response. This measurement could be in the form of sensation.
“Does this make me feel better?”

Perhaps a bit more objective measurement is in the form of motion.
After performing a “baseline” Range of Motion test,
such as arm arm raise or toe touch,
perform the exercise, or “Gym Movement,”
and then perform your ROM test again.
If you get more ROM, that is a “green light,” less ROM, a “red light.”

When you feel better or can do more,
this is the body’s way of letting you know that the exercise you performed had a net positive effect on your body.
(To learn how to use BioFeedback to achieve
a Personal Record EVERY SINGLE TIME in the gym,
check out: GYM MOVEMENT!)
That may sound a little out there unless you know a bit more about the Nervous System.

We define the Nervous System as an:
“An organ system that both allows and disallows conscious and unconscious sensation and motion.”

For those of you a bit more neurocentric, allows and disallows can be better defined as:
facilitates and inhibits.  Facilitation and Inhibition are two of the main mechanisms behind BioFeedback testing.  At any given time, the Nervous System is inhibiting certain parts of the body while facilitating others.

One of the reasons the body inhibits itself is to protect itself.
If the body senses a lack of integrity in a bodily area,
it inhibits that part of the body (along with others)
from excessive speed, range of motion, and load.

If you go to the gym and perform movements that the body is inhibiting, best case scenario, it doesn’t feel too good. Worst case scenario, you injure yourself.

It makes sense:
Doing things that aren’t good for you is like
driving with one foot on the brakes and the other other on the gas.

But if you go to the gym and perform movements that are not inhibited, you facilitate your body (at least parts), you dis-inhibit your body (at least parts), and get more speed, ROM and strength (among other movement/motor quantities).
But why aren’t we aware of all this facilitation and inhibition?

The answer lies in Anatomy and Physiology. Not all parts of the brain are connected to each other and no part of our conscious mind is directly connected to the body. So not only are we not conscious of everything, we aren’t conscious of most things…especially in our body. We’re not all that aware of peristalsis, respiration, perspiration and the overwhelming majority of bodily processes. We’re not wired to be.

To make matters worse, when we’re educated that we should do things in spite of how we feel, we become insensitive to those bodily sensations, or feelings. It becomes hard to tell when things make us feel better or make us feel worse. We’ve effectively rewired ourselves.

But when you start paying attention to how we respond, seeing if you feel better or worse, seeing if you can do more or do less, you uncross your cross-wires, reconnect what was disconnected, and make new connections. You become much more sensitive and predictive of how things will affect you.

When you make use of our own biofeedback, better or worse in the gym won’t be a mystery anymore. You can turn your attention to better questions and greater mysteries beyond the gym.  I’ll hope you use BioFeedback for better answers and an even better direction.

5 thoughts on “Using BioFeedback For “Better”

  1. I like the idea of intuitive biofeedback training. What happens if people are imperceptive of change in the ROM test? For instance, they begin a physically challenging set of deadlift and the bar slides out of their failing grip. They then test and think ROM is the same as it was and continue the exercise.

    Are there other markers to end an exercise? How does mental fatigue fit in with biofeedback?

  2. Mark,

    Thanks for the questions.

    I would go so far as to say
    if there isn’t an increase in ROM,
    use that as a red light.
    If it’s not better, it’s worse.

    If one is utilizing a test
    that is not particularly sensitive,
    I would recommend using another,
    ROM, or otherwise.

    Any “Movement Quantity” can be used an indicator:
    Mobility, etc, etc

    I believe Mental Fatigue has a physical substrate
    and would be indicated by negative ROM.


  3. Mark- For what it’s worth, it took me a little while to get better at the ROM test itself. I needed some coaching. Perhaps you will, too.

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