Does posture and using good form matter in life or exercise?
Hebbian Law tells us that "Neurons that fire together, wire together".
Neuropsychologist Donald Hebb first used this phrase in 1949 to describe how pathways in the brain are formed and reinforced through repetition.
This concept explains the importance of using good form in each repetition of an exercise.
Say you do hundreds of squats a week while working out. At the top of your squat, when standing upright, you squeeze your glutes and push your hips forward. You are ingraining a movement habit that you will use when doing daily activities such as standing up from a chair or even standing at the kitchen counter while making your morning coffee.
When I was a kid my brother and I used to make goofy faces at each other. Our mom would issue a rather horrifying warning, "If the wind changes, you'll get stuck like that." These days many children and adults spend a lot of time looking down at a phone or other similar device. As a result of spending much of the day with their head dropping forward, they do indeed get "stuck like that." Neck and shoulder issues are becoming increasingly common, often referred to as "Tech Neck".
We need strategies to keep us from getting stuck in a non-optimal posture. We can learn to re-wire.
So how do you wire your neurons together, so they fire in to create positive patterns?
IMS has the answer (of course!)
The IMS ABC's - ALIGNMENT, BREATHING & CONTROL
1. Alignment. If you start with optimal joint alignment and maintain this through most exercises and posture, your brain will begin wiring optimal joint alignment.
2. Three-dimensional breathing. Three-dimensional breathing has many benefits—it aids in optimal posture, keeping muscles balanced, improved mobility and joint stability.
3. Control. This means when performing activities, you are using the correct muscular effort for the task. For example, you will use a different amount of muscular effort to pick up a piece of paper vs. a 50lb weight.
So how do you know if you are wiring neurons together correctly?
You can you self-assessments. Self-assessments or self-checks are quick ways to see if your body is staying flexible while exercising. If you do not maintain alignment, breathing, or control during exercise or everyday life, you may start to feel tight or uncomfortable. Your nervous system is trying to keep you safe by tightening down areas that feel unstable or out of alignment.
An example of a self-check is neck or cervical rotation. Here's how:
- Turn your head to the right, back to centre.
- Turn to the left, and back to centre.
- Which way feels tighter? Not sure? Repeat the above two more times.
As you exercise, if this begins to feel tighter after a few reps or sets, it is likely a sign that you are losing alignment, breath or control. If the range improves or feels easier, you are likely on track with your alignment, breath, and control.
This concept of maintaining alignment, breath and control can be challenging when you start implementing it into your everyday life and exercise. You may even wonder if you are doing it correctly.
We recommend finding a professional that understands the importance of performing exercises optimally using these principles and is knowledgeable in assessing for correct execution.
As a professional certified in the Integrative Movement System, I receive ongoing instruction in movement assessment training, and can identify non-optimal movement strategies that can lead to chronic discomfort and injury.
If you are looking to ensure you are performing exercises correctly for your joint and body health, reach out today so we can assess and put the best plan in place for you!