If you work out or live an active lifestyle, you are constantly changing your brain. Traditional training methods primarily target the musculoskeletal system, biomechanics, and proprioception (or the awareness of the position of one’s body). BUT...
All movement starts in the brain
As an analogy, to make a car faster you wouldn’t first change the tires or outside structures, but instead work on the engine. Our nervous system is the engine that drives all other bodily functions.
Improving brain function through applied neurology can help improve athletic performance and fitness.
This process is called “Z-Health.” It was founded by Dr. Eric Cobb, who has helped Olympic gold medalists and stay-at-home moms alike with his incredible knowledge of the human brain and body.
Input, Interpretation, and Output in the Brain
There are three things our brain is concerned about: input, interpretation, and output.
Input is what is received by many different receptors in the body. For instance, the receptors of an ankle joint can be activated by specific movements of the area. In addition, we constantly receive input from our visual and vestibular (balance) systems. Both are very important for the nervous system.
The brain has to then make an interpretation of all these inputs and decide if they are safe because the brain’s primary job is survival.
The second job is actually movement. This is considered the output. If the brain interprets the inputs as indicating danger, the output could be pain or tension in the body.
If we give our brains optimal inputs, by moving all joints through full range of motion, training our visual system to be more precise, and working on our balance system, the perception of danger will be lower and the movement performance improved.
Z-Health in Practice
The neuroscientific approach to fitness training is the cutting edge of performance enhancement. Anyone can take physical and mental training to the next level by finding out more about his or her brain, and what drills to do that target not only the musculoskeletal system but also the visual and vestibular system.
As a coach, I need to know how well my clients’ brains acquire inputs, how they interpret the information, and how to create optimal changes based on my observations. As an example, if my client is working on improving her golf swing and needs more range of motion, I assess her visual and vestibular system in addition to all involved joints and their receptors. Often, we can improve the rotation by working on eye muscles.
In high-performance sports, like basketball, players are already doing vision training. Steph Curry, for example, trains his brain and eyes by using strobe goggles while handling the basketball to improve his athletic performance. Vision is also the focus of many therapies that target learning and behavior.
In summary, the best physical training integrates multiple bodily systems. It doesn’t just strengthen joints and muscles, but also targets brain functioning through sensory inputs. By addressing all inputs into the brain, trainers and clients can work together to improve performance beyond what any one-dimensional approach to fitness could do.
Eva Scott is a certified Z-Health Performance Coach now seeing clients at DFitLife.
For more information you can reach her at EvaScott2@gmail.com
Education credit: @zhealth_performance