Updated: Nov 10, 2020
Muscle Memory begins at infancy and is the result of every movement we perform. As a child we begin to use muscle memory to begin holding our parents finger or grabbing a pacifier, as we learn to grasp things for the first time. We form #musclememory patterns as we learn to lift our heads and gently rest it back on to the pillow demonstrating control. We build muscle memory as we learn to crawl for the first time and later walk. And as we grow, our bodies are constantly learning and adapting our muscle memory to the new length of our bones and position of our bodies through the awkward phases of our youth, often times resulting in an uncoordinated mess, until we figure it out through practice. We learn constant repetition is the key to building muscle memory.
As we become adults and enter the work force, we begin to build muscle memory in very specific ways. If we sit for a living, we start building the muscle memory of sitting. If we are a professional athlete, we build memory patterns that help us to be more successful at our sport. Thousands and thousands of hours worth of muscle memory go into hitting a ball or sitting at a desk. Our daily lives produce the stimulus that our bodies take in and form muscular efficiency so we can repeat those activities easier and easier.
This translates into our body’s position as well. Because muscles move bones, our bodies use the memory pathways to create more efficient positions from which to carry out our day. For example, If we sit for a living, whether at a desk or in a car, we tend to get a rounded back and forward head position. We get tighter hips because we are sitting, and the musculature is shortened for long periods of time with little large movements. This excessive rounding of the back and forward position of the shoulders causes countless potential problems for us because of this new position. The curvature of the back is now susceptible to nerve impingements and degeneration of the cartilage (discs) between the vertebrae. The new shoulder position makes us now more at risk for rotator cuff problems or muscle tightness that continually causes headaches or generic shoulder pain. And we are doing it to ourselves out of necessity. We need our jobs, and there isn’t enough ergonomics in the world to make the repetitive stimulus of sitting into something tolerable.
The same thing happens if we are moving too much. Imbalances are formed to create a more efficient frame that allows us to be better at our primary activity. This is easy to see in elite athletes. All of the athletes at an elite level have very similar frames to the other athletes of their sport. Swimmers look like swimmers, runners look like runners, and spectators look like spectators. And while many athletes of every level practice the skills needed to make them great at their sport, the same cannot be said that athletes put enough variety into the workouts to make them balanced physically. It is this balance that gives the athlete a long career, and the ability to recover quickly from inevitable injury or mishap.
Understanding how muscle memory is formed and how your body’s posture changes over time, is the key to understanding how to reverse the negative effects of repetitive stress injuries. It’s also the key to understanding what needed to heal from any injury and #injuryprevention . Using muscle memory to create positive movement patterns, and create healthy balanced posture, is nature’s gift to taking care of ourselves. Muscle memory can be used to reverse the effects of thousands of hours of negative stimulus that creates an achey body and a cranky disposition. You just need to get the right stimulus to build the positive memory patterns…and do a little bit every day.