NEUROPLASTICITY: open the mind

It's a fancy word to say that we are systemically malleable by using our brain; we can change ourselves through our central nervous system. We can learn things and learning things makes us better at whatever the task may be.

My realm is movement and all the tissue structures that give us the glorious ability to dance, leap, push, pull, rotate and walk.  The movement available to us is infinite, beautiful and can deliver lots of joy and health. I've been studying how to optimize this for the last 2 decades and I'm always growing my understanding. There are things I know-anatomy, biomechanics, Pilates, the value and practice of functional training and the general management of alignment, force and load- physics defines movement, but there are always more things to discover. I feel that I have a strong foundation in the aforementioned sciences and I practice from there, throwing in other things for fun, flavor and added benefit. Learning changes how I practice and expands my toolbox.  Historically, I've had many experiences that have been profound to the way I practice.. As a dedicated practitioner, I think my foundation is strong.  My world, was shook recently.

While expanding my Pilates education, all the new things have been re-enforcing what I know- first move well, check form and force closure, balance the myofascial slings, engage your core and breathe... And it has been so much fun and mind opening.  It is with an open mind and excited heart that I travelled to Chicago to take my first Oov course, hence the shaking, both figuratively and literally.  Functional movement training is all about creating efficient movement patterns that strengthen the body in a coordinated and effective way.  The goal is to never reinforce poor recruitment patterns, rather to re-pattern more efficient patterns for the task required.  I know what you are thinking, “That’s how we train at Iron & Grace!”  It is true, but the Oov gives us a new environment to shape learning.  The most succinct summation of what the Oov allows involves task based learning, relinquishing of fear in a 3 dimensionally unstable place (balance training), and unconsciously creating new and improved movement patterns to relieve pain and optimize movement with eccentric activation for greater strength and control;  V E R Y   
S L O W L Y.



Fascia is an interconnected web of tissue that is everywhere and its health and ability to slide and glide affects the WHOLE body. The exciting research hat has come about from all over the world tell us that our myofascia has its own mechanoreceptors (sensors that respond to tension and pressure.) The first gathering of the Fascia Research Congress defined it as all collagenous, fibrous connective tissues.  This definition is super cool because collagen shows a TREMENDOUS adaptability to gravitational load, which is, on this planet, inescapable. If the connective tissue is loaded properly, the inherent networking cells called fibroblasts, adapt their matrix remodeling activity so that the tissue architecture responds instantly.  While muscles need to break down and build up, to grow and change, fascia just needs to be given the right kind of load, environment and movement to adapt instantly. Dr. Robert Schleip is one of the world’s foremost researchers and an authority on fascia, states that with proper tension and loading we can address sensory receptors in order to affect tissue tone, body awareness and deeply- established movement patterns.  The “deeply established movement patterns” part is where I will focus. The architecture is complex and to explain it all would muddy my point.  The important thing to know as a body owner and mover is that the local architecture of this network adapts instantly in the right conditions.

Coming back to neuroplasticity…  The “right conditions” can be created with lots of our tools and I want to keep your attention so I will come to my point and bring it back to topic.  The Oov is exciting, the Oov is unique but this concept of learning (from our mistakes especially) ALWAYS APPLIES.  We make ill patterns then we re-pattern.  We create habits then abandon habits.  Joe Pilates had 2 main principles- Whole body health and Whole Body commitment. Learning something new is a commitment.  If we give up learning, we give up improving, if we give up improving, what is the point?  I have entirely too much to say after a summer full of reading, training and practicing. I thought this post timely as some of you will need to learn how to work with mindbodyonline (so easy!) but some of you will just welcome your old friend and pick right up where you left off.  Open your mind and wonderful things will happen- I KNOW IT!