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. These principles influence every facet of an exercise, from load, to number of sets and reps, rest, range of motion, speed, duration of contraction, type of contraction, object of focus, etc. They are as follows:
1.When training the body, the mind is inevitably and inextricably being trained, as well.
The attitudes and behaviors that are projected and utilized while exercising have significance outside of exercise. The neural networks that are active are being exercised/practiced, and therefore reinforced, becoming wired and more efficiently accessed in the brain and favored by the mind.
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 chemical changes in muscle and connective tissues (including joints) alter the sensitivity (and therefore behavior) of the sensory endings in those tissues. There are also changes in the sensitivity of neurons in the spinal cord and the brain.
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 accommodate the motion of the musculoskeletal system. Inadequate mobility of the nervous system impairs the mobility of the neuromuscular system.
5. In order to perform an exercise, the nervous system must determine which muscles and motor units are best suited for the task, and then recruit them.
Forces applied to the body are guided 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 an exercise
6. The motor units and muscles recruited by the nervous system to perform and exercise must produce adequate energy to generate the required tension and 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.
7. The nervous system coordinates the cardiovascular, metabolic, and endocrine responses required to support the activity of the neuromusculoskeletal system.
When designing an exercise, we must be mindful that the efficiencies and deficiencies of the cardiovascular, metabolic, and endocrine systems directly impact the function of the neuromuscular system.
If you have any questions regarding the origin or application of these principles, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.