Mind Over Matter:
The Role of the Brain in Training
Written by Dr. Edythe Heus
RevInMo Founder – Los Angeles
Revolution in Motion is great for the brain in that it improves neuroplasticity, neurochemical processes, and body schema. The brain loves movement and is designed to move. If you have a nervous system, you’re biologically designed to move.
The phrase “mind over matter” is much more than an idiom. The brain’s integral role in training goes beyond simple perseverance. When it comes to analyzing which components of the human body are more active in balance-based training than traditional resistance training, the brain is the first organ.
Taken together, the brain and the body are integrated whole. While we try to segment the organ into spheres or sections (such as medulla oblongata, cerebellum, or hippocampus) to study and discuss it to better understand our role as a species, it is crucial to consider it as a whole. The brain is intricate and complex, and I know enough about it to be sure that I know very little, so I will keep it simple for all of us.
I do know that instability training makes the cerebellum work harder and better. Instability training relays information from the fascia, muscles, joints, and vestibular system to the brain and back to the body to take action. The cerebellum doesn’t directly control movement but monitors areas of the brain doing the work and makes them work more efficiently. The better our cerebellum is working, the better we can perform our sport or action.
But, it gets better than that: some scientists hypothesize that the brain evolved to control action rather than cognition and executive function (the processes of planning, focusing, multitasking, and following instructions).
“The more you know The less you understand.”
I think about the Ascidiacea or “sea squirt” marine creature as an example of this concept. These life forms swim around until they identify a location to camp permanently, and in the meantime, they devour their brain and nervous system because they no longer need it. I design training programs to similarly increase efficiency and refine the perception of our outer and inner environments, so we’re better able to respond precisely to any stimulus. This type of training, in turn, allows us to anticipate and adjust movement accordingly. The cerebellum is critical in this process. This kind of sensorimotor learning involves the cerebellum instructing the frontal systems to think ahead, anticipate what could be coming, and prepare for it. It is our “spidey sense,” so to speak.
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