The Science

Understanding Optimal Neuromuscular Mechanics

How we use our bodies every day determines our functional capabilities.

Dr. Sam Dubé

Physician and sports training expert

Neuromuscular mechanics describes the functional relationship between the brain (the central nervous system) and muscle activity. 

The soles of the feet provide the brain with critical information during walking and running.

The brain controls all body movements in response to information received from the senses. 

FACT: Healthy neuromuscular function = optimal performance (strength, flexibility, endurance, coordination, balance, agility, robustness, quickness, speed, and biomechanical alignment) with minimal propensity to injury.

FACT: Optimal healthy neuromuscular function requires “Proper Technique,” which incorporates:

  • Right Stimulus – the appropriate and needed variable stimulus for healthy function (since the brain tunes out constant and/or repetitive stimuli and stops responding to it).
  • Right Movement – the healthy, unrestricted, and optimally aligned joint and soft tissue movement and mobility.

The body’s innate intelligence will always attempt to facilitate optimal healthy neuromusculoskeletal function via protective reflex mechanisms.

However, this ability is compromised by environments that dampen Right Stimulus or restrict Right Movement.

The human body’s neuromuscular system is remarkably adaptable.

The neuromuscular system adapts by way of functional conditioning, which is not limited to athletics–it occurs during all of our daily activities. Activities such as walking, running, biking, washing the dishes, sweeping the floor, and driving a car condition or train our body’s functional capabilities. Each of these activities requires a harmonious interaction that involves the nervous system, muscles, and joints. 

Depending upon our footwear choices, every moment we wear shoes we are training healthy or unhealthy neuromuscular function in our feet, legs, hips, and back.

If this harmonious interaction is interrupted because of poor sensory input, inadequate flexibility, restriction of movement, or lack of strength the resulting breakdown leads to a decrease in functional robustness and a predisposition to injury. When the harmonious interaction is interrupted daily, the neuromuscular system adapts (maladapts), and the inefficient function becomes the conditioned “norm.” 

However, maladapted function is easily retrained by employing daily Proper Technique activities that help condition functional improvements. Proper Technique activities can include everyday activities and specific exercises that meet the following criteria:

  • They must include three-dimensional movements, such as movements that are not artificially restricted or limited to one or two planes.
  • They must adequately condition the nervous system and muscles to develop memory and help make movements automatic (reflexive).
  • They must train a response to external forces and allow the neuromuscular system to make the best use of outside influences such as gravity, ground contact forces, and momentum.
  • They must train bio-motor abilities (flexibility, strength, power, endurance, agility, and coordination).

Everyday movements and adaptability

Functional conditioning requires training of the nervous system. The brain learns movement by creating motor programs through repetition of the movement. Every time a person learns how to write, ride a bike, or throw a baseball, the brain creates a motor program that allows repetition of the activity without re-learning the mechanics each time. In this way, the brain and nervous system are continually adapting to the demands of our daily activities.

Proper Technique movements enhance function and reduce risk of injury.

Repeated Proper Technique movements improve the way the body develops motor programs and help the neuromuscular system operate to its highest potential. Conversely, repeated Poor Technique movements hinder the way the body develops motor programs, erode the neuromuscular system’s functional robustness, and predispose the body to injury. 

Poor technique activities diminish functional capabilities and increase risk of injury.

Over time, repetitive healthy or unhealthy movements become the habitual (reflexive), conditioned “Norm.” The good news is, because the neuromuscular system is so adaptable, the restoration of healthy movement is remarkably simple:  replace the everyday Poor Technique activities with Proper Technique activities.

See the Protective reflexes and innate body intelligence article for more information.