Principles of Neuromuscular Orchestration (Update)

When designing an exercise from the nervous system’s point of view, there are at least 7 characteristics to consider. I am calling these characteristics 7 Principles of Neuromuscular Orchestration. They are as follows:

1. In order to perform an exercise, the nervous system must solve a series of control problems.

Forces applied to the body are generated by exercise equipment, the mass of the limbs and trunk (interacting with gravity and inertial affects), and muscle. The application of these forces to the body create postural and movement challenges that the nervous system must solve in order for the subject to perform a task.

2. The resolution of the nervous system is plastic.

The nervous system’s ability to distinguish the details of the condition, motion, and posture of the body varies according to use, need, and health.

3. The sensitivity of the nervous system is dynamic.

Specific mechanical and/or chemical changes in muscle and connective tissues (including joints) alter the sensitivity of the sensory endings in those tissues.

4. The mobility of the nervous system is key to posture and motion.

The brain stem, spinal cord, and the peripheral nerves lengthen and shorten (without stretching) to achieve postures and to accommodate the motion of the musculoskeletal system.

5. The motor units and muscles recruited by the nervous system to perform a task must produce adequate energy to generate the required tension and/or power.

Muscle cells have multiple processes and sources (aerobic, anaerobic, glucose, creatine phosphate, etc.) for making fuel. Each process and source is favored by specific conditions within the tissues.

6. The nervous system coordinates the cardiovascular, metabolic, and endocrine responses required to support the activity of the neuromuscular system.

When designing an exercise, we must be mindful of how well (or poorly) the cardiovascular, metabolic, and endocrine response is supporting the needs of the neuromuscular system.

7. When you are training your body, you are inevitably and inextricably training your mind.

The attitudes and behaviors that are projected and utilized while exercising have significance. The neural networks that are active are being exercised/practiced and therefore reinforced, becoming wired and more efficiently accessed in the brain.

If you have any questions regarding the origin or application of these principles, please email me: 

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