Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Z-Health Thought of the Day: Brain Mapping & Touch Receptors

I’ve been talking to a lot of people about how the brain “maps” our movements based on proprioceptor input. Proprioception of our body’s ability to sense where it is in space. For example, are you leaning forward? Backward? Sideways? Are you standing perpendicular to the horizon? Is your body rotating? If so, which direction? Is someone touching you? If so, how much pressure are they applying? How much force do you feel on your feet? Your hands? Your back? Basically, we use vision, inner ear, and mechanoreceptors around our joints to sense proprioception. Proprioception is “all the body all the time.” Our “brain map” is constantly updating millions of times per year based on all the input. If you have good “map clarity” then your body knows how to move. If your map clarity is poor, your movements can be awkward, guarded, and inefficient. What we want is good map clarity so we know where we are going and how to get there—efficiently and safely.

The brain prioritizes real estate! All parts are not created equal when it comes to brain power. The area of our bodies with the most amount of brain power are the hands. The next two areas of highest receptor importance are the feet and facial area around the lips and tongue.

As we might imagine, the hands and mouth are extremely important and sensitive…but once again…let’s talk FEET!

The feet—often overlooked and disrespected in America until something goes wrong. Each foot has 26 bones. Both feet together have ¼ of the bones in your body—plus a very high percentage of the brain power! Respect the feet! What happens or does not happen at the ground with the feet will significantly change your body moving through space above.

To see this receptor “brain real estate” representation graphically, you can look at the “Homunculus” drawing. You’ll see the hands are HUGE along with the feet and oral area—this is where most of our brain power is directed.

The University of Washington has an awesome “Neuroscience for Kids” section that explains the Homunculus is simple terms. Check it out below—yes—it’s also a good place for adults to begin! (Brain Mapping Receptor Tutorial)

Move well. Improve your neural map clarity, and appreciate your brain and body for it is truly amazing. Take care of it. Exercise. Eat healthy food that will HELP your brain. If you work “with” your brain and central nervous system, things can change fast in a positive direction. The brain rules. Work with it. You’ll be glad you did.

In MOVEment,
Coach RJ