The neurological reasons for muscle weakness

By Dan Skulavik - Contributing columnist

What would you say if you found out there were legitimate reasons why your exercise program was failing to give you the results you desired? There are five nervous system related issues that could be hindering your muscle strengthening and injury prevention efforts.

The brain communicates with every part of your body via nerves. This includes muscles, joints and various aspects of your skin. These nerves run to/from the brain, go down the spinal cord, and then branch off to each and every part of the body. If anything along this path is disrupted, the nervous system communication with the muscles, joints and skin is compromised. This means your muscles will not contract as efficiently as possible!

Here are five nervous system related issues that could be preventing you from activating the optimum number of muscle fibers each time you exercise:

1. Reduced sensitivity of joint receptors. This can impair feedback from the “end-point”(muscles) to the brain.

2. Muscles imbalances. This can result in POOR movement patterns.

3. Insufficient rest periods. Not resting enough (or resting too much) between sets can adversely affect recovery.

4. Poor coordination due to a lack of balance. This results in further muscle imbalances.

5. Impaired circulation. Nerves have their own circulation too. If this circulation becomes limited, the communication between muscles and nerves is negatively impacted.

The nervous system controls all the muscles of the body. Unfortunately, the mind-muscle link tends to weaken over a period of time unless you challenge your muscles on a consistent basis.

Here are five solutions to regain control of your muscles:

• Nurture the right mindset for exercise. Don’t set yourself up for failure. The right amount of concentration helps optimize the results from your exercise routine.

• Move in functional directions. This means multi-dimensional, or 3-D movements. Remember to mix it up!

• Improve coordination by challenging yourself with new exercises. Every new exercise or movement pattern demands new pathways of “communication” between nerves and muscles. The greater the variety, the better it is for your muscles.

• Challenge your balance with core stabilization techniques. Ask your physical therapist to teach you the best exercises to improve your core stability.

• Optimize your rest period between exercises. The right amount of rest between exercises can help optimize muscle recovery. To determine the correct amount of rest in your therapeutic exercise regimen, give us a call.

Another way that you can improve your mind-muscle link is through interval training. Interval training is a type of exercise training in which you alternate between various intensities of exercise in a single session; switching back and forth between a high intensity phase and a low intensity phase.

An example of this is an exercise session in which an intense phase of exercise like weight training is alternated with a period of walking on the treadmill. The idea is to challenge muscles in an unpredictable manner and keep the body “guessing” about what’s coming next. Mixing up different components of your exercise routine (intensity, duration, frequency and type of muscles recruited) boosts the mind-muscle connection.

To find out more about how physical therapy can help you reach your goals, increase strength and reduce pain, get in touch with one of our highly qualified physical therapists. Get the most out of your therapeutic exercise program. We’re here to help you become stronger.

By Dan Skulavik

Contributing columnist

Dan Skulavik is the physical therapist at Advanced Physical Therapy in Food Lion Shopping Center.

Dan Skulavik is the physical therapist at Advanced Physical Therapy in Food Lion Shopping Center.

comments powered by Disqus