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There is a “neurocentrism” in physical training. Let’s blame it on the Russians. The Nervous System matters…but it’s not the limiting factor.

No Limits is NOT the same as UNLIMITING!No Limits is NOT the same as UNLIMITING!

Let’s start with our definition of the Nervous System. The Nervous System is an organ system that allows and disallows sensation and motion of the body. But why would it do that?

Why would the Nervous System allow us or keep us from feeling and moving our body? Just one of the reasons it does this is to protect the body. The nervous system doesn’t prioritize itself, it prioritizes the rest of the body. And the body is made up of tissue.

Tissue has contractile properties which are expressed through the nervous system but tissue also has an additional property that is mechanical. The body’s mechanical properties can be summarized in just a few words: elastic, plastic, deform, and reform (and a few others).

Every bodily structure has a range of motion it can move through, or deform itself. Once this structure has moved through that ROM, or deformed, it reforms. It “bounces back.”

But there are times when reformation doesn’t occur. This is referred to as having a “plastic deformity.” Let me give you a real world example: sitting.

We all sit. Sitting has gotten a bad rap…for somewhat of a good reason. Sitting can plastically deform us.

If we’re in any position long enough, our tissue adapts to make it easier to be in that position. Therein lies the problem. If we stay in any position, not just sitting, we lose the ability to move…because we’re not moving.

We’ll lost our contractile properties (nervous) as well as our mechanical (elastic) properties. So how do we get them back? How do we regain proper contractile and mechanical functioning?

Many therapists, clinicians, and coaches oversimplify bodily problems. They look at someone who sits all the time and see someone who is stuck in flexion. And they think putting them in extension is the solution.

Stand up straight. Sit up straight. Be tall in your lifts!

But putting yourself in another position isn’t the answer. Overstabilization isn’t the solution. It’s another problem.

If you’re stuck in flexion, you don’t have a flexion problem or even an extension problem. You have a Range of Motion, or elastic deformity problem. You cannot move through a normal range of extension. And if you’ve been stuck in flexion long enough, you don’t have a normal range of flexion either.

No amount of stabilization in the opposite direction is going to restore Range of Motion. In this instance, stability isn’t the solution. Mobility, or movement, is the solution. And when you focus on movement, focus on elasticity. Elasticity is what’s missing.

How do we restore elasticity? Simple. We deform and reform through our existing (eustressful) ranges of motion. And when we (eustressfully) work through existing ranges of motion, our nervous system grants us more range of motion and more elasticity.

Deform yourself through extension and reform yourself flexion. Deform yourself through flexion and reform yourself extension. Neither movement is more important.

But how do you decide which directions, ROMs, loads, and speeds to train with? Your Nervous System tells you…based on how it feels.

Does moving into extension feel good today? Good! Train that through the ROM, the load, and speed at which it feels good. But extension doesn’t feel good? Good! Consider training flexion.

Remember, if you’re stuck in flexion, you don’t have a flexion problem. You have a movement problem. You have a ROM problem. You have an elasticity problem. Not training in flexion just perpetuates your problems. But training from flexion to extension (when it tests/feels well), restores elasticity.

Your nervous system most likely isn’t the limiting factor. Nervous Tissue changes/moves/adapts faster than rest of our tissues. So contractile properties aren’t what limit us, mechanical properties are. “Unlimit” your limiting factor: restore your elasticity by training elastically!

Frankie Faires
Frankie is a co-Founder of The Movement and author of THE MOVEMENT’S BioMechanics 1, 2, 3, & BioPsychology courses. When he is not spending time with his family, he educates people online in Health / Fitness and Martial Arts. For additional info go to: www.movementmartialarts.com

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