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Muscle Memory

The other day I was playing guitar and decided to play an old song that I used to know. I was having difficulty remembering how to play it. This was a song that I had learned and could play at one point.


As I fumbled around trying to get it right, I noticed that each time I tried, it got a bit better. After a few runs at it, it came back to me completely. I wasn’t intentionally trying to “remember” it. I was just letting my fingers find it. And it worked!


This is an example of Muscle Memory. When we repeat a movement over and over, neurons in the brain get stronger and we, essentially, memorize that motor pattern. The classic example is riding a bike. And it applies to anything we do repetitively, like swinging a golf club, practicing scales on the piano, learning dance steps etc. Think of something that you’re good at. You’ve probably done it over and over enough times that you no longer have to think about it and the movements have gotten more refined over time. Almost automatic.


Our muscles don’t really have memory. This is the way our nervous system adapts so we can function most efficiently.


This hard-wiring of our nervous system is going on all of the time, whether we want it or not. For the most part this can be very beneficial.


However, our posture, the way we stand, slouching over our computer, and even just sitting around on the couch can get habituated. When that happens, we can lose conscious awareness of those unhealthy patterns – and THEY become automatic. We don’t even know we’re doing it. This is called SMA. Over time this will lead to problems and pain. This would be the negative effects of muscle memory.


The way we can prevent this is to, first, become aware of those habits that you’re repeating over and over. And make corrections. The other very effective way to resolve this is with Somatic movements that incorporate pandiculation to retrain our nervous system.


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