Yesterday, Guido Van Ryssegem was gracious enough to speak to us at the Free Salem Fitness Summit. While his topic was “Resolving Upper Extremity Movement Dysfunctions”, he delivered plenty of nuggets regarding motor learning in general.
Here are three gems I plucked from his talk:
1. Motor Control is a convergence of experience and expectation.
Such a brilliantly simple summary of how the brain works to control the body. Past experience forms an expectation. It takes time and mindful repetitions to change an expectation. You current experience is an opportunity to change things, from pain to range of motion. Be aware and deliberate in your practice. Your expectations from here on out depend on it.
2. The brain wants to figure things out.
Let it. Challenge it. Move variably to keep it engaged. Always have a joker up your sleeve to make easy, practiced things hard. New patterns take 15 seconds to acquire. Your reflexes aren’t necessarily ‘right’. The body is smart enough to deliver on demands. Give it the time and respect to solve a problem.
3. Use isometrics prior to movement to spark specific stiffness.
Adding strength doesn’t always fix everything. It’s the patterning that matters. If you feel mostly triceps working in a pushup, for example, pre-empt the movement with a prayer like (elbows up) palm press as hard as you can (shaking required) for at least 10 seconds and then get a few pushups in. Fatigue recruits more muscle fibers. Let the usuals tire out to get to the sleepers. Trust the tension you feel as an indicator of what’s working.