Monday, March 8, 2010

Z-Health Thought of the Day: Enemies of Efficiency

There are two enemies of efficiency regarding human movement:

1. Startle Reflex
2. Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA)

Startle Reflex: Startle is hard wired into our bodies for survival. In extreme situations, startle reflex is a good thing to help us survive. Startle is “precognitive” meaning we can’t control it with active thought. If someone jumps at you in the darkness with a baseball bat—certain actions are going to take place in your body to protect your vital organs from damage for purposes of survival whether you think about them or not. Basically, you do two observable body actions when in startle—you flex and adduct. Flexion means you’ll draw arms up and legs up, etc. Adduction means you bring your arms and legs closer to your center or midline. Think of the “Startle Reflex” as being in the fetal position--or at least moving closer to the fetal position. Great for short term survival at times—but BAD for the long term movements when going about your daily business. It’s impossible to move well while in startle, yet millions of Americans are in chronic startle postures today; hence; they are very inefficient with their daily movements.

Sensory Motor Amnesia: The best way to describe SMA is that the body “has forgotten how to move.” One of the hardest parts of my job is working with people that basically have no clue about what is moving or how to move it. I literally have to place a person’s foot or hand or arm sometimes into a certain position. They have no sense of “kinesthetic awareness” regarding how to move—basically SMA. I have also found that a person can have SMA in one part of their body but not another. For example, a quarterback might have great ability to throw a ball with the upper body but might have poor control at the foot and ankle. Think of it this way though--if he had better control at the foot and ankle he would definately have better control with the upper body throwing as well. Alas, it can be frustrating for the person and the movement coach, but the body has amazing ability to re-learn and improve how it moves with the correct input and movement drills. It can be done!!!

The Z-Health system is built on correcting these two enemies of efficiency. We work to eliminate startle reflex and bring a person back into a neutral posture which is the best position from which to generally move while using the initial drills. How do we remove threat with Z? By doing the Z-Health dynamic joint mobility drills with NO PAIN-NO THREAT. It’s not how fast or how big the movements are—but how quality while pain free—a vastly different approach than traditional gym workouts, but one that is mandatory for optimizing your central nervous system.

To restore your sensory motor awareness, we perform very small and precise joint movements to re-educate the central nervous system so it can you move better. A person can quickly feel where they are and how to move if the correct dynamic joint mobility exercises are performed with high quality and at the correct speeds. Remember—it’s not a “workout” or about going hard and fast. Z-Health is about letting your brain know it’s okay to move because it’s pain free without threat.

Trust me—it works. However, you will never “get it” by reading about Z-Health—you must “learn by wholistic experience” which is also referred as “somatic learning.”

More on specifics of “Threat Response” to posture and bodily functions in future posts!
In MOVEment, Coach RJ

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