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Maximizing Motor Learning: Queues Matter



Are you telling your clients that while performing an exercise, they are supposed to "squeeze" those "glutes" or "tighten that core"? These cueing techniques are used everywhere from physiotherapy clinics to high performance facilities around the world. Presumably, the goal is to ensure that the participant appropriately uses the target movers and / or stabilizers for the task at hand. Of course, not all clues are suitable for each exercise or help the client to get the maximum benefit from a given exercise.

The execution of each movement is the sum of incredible processing and coordination of motor signals to the musculoskeletal system and the muscular system continuous feedback from peripheral sensory receptors as well as visual, vestibular and auditory inputs. For proficiency, efficiency, safety, and maximum benefit, sports professionals and health coaches can give the client verbal, visual, and sometimes tactical clues about movement execution.

For example, your customer executes a plank and you mark him or her to keep the core tight. In another example, your client makes a woodpile move with a cable machine and you can use the exact same mood. It is clear that these two exercises have very different biomechanical and neurological properties. The plank is a static exercise that places the core directly in a loaded position because gravity acts perpendicular to the fuselage's position. Chopping wood is a dynamic movement with the body oriented vertically and with multiple levels of movement, which requires coordination and timing of muscle power production.

Is the desired result of the queues the same for both exercises? The answer is no. Although the core may be involved in both exercises, the purpose of the exercise, the role of the core, and your expectations of the client are very different. If so, will the client be able to distinguish between what is implied and what is being said?

A better approach is to urge your clients to use a technique called focus of attention. From the perspective of motor learning, this term can be defined as "the conscious effort of an individual to direct their attention through explicit thoughts in order to perform motor skills with superior performance" (Benz et al., 201

6).

The focus of attention can be reduced to the Intrinsic Focus of Attention (IFA) and the Extrinsic Focus of Attention (EFA). Intrinsic focus is the attention to parts of the body of the individual (buttocks, trunk, knee, spine, etc.). The client is asked to perform a movement based on which parts or parts of the body that he or she consciously controls are performed with greater attention than other parts of the body. Extrinsic Focus refers to targets outside the body and can be related to distance, direction, and analogies (eg, "hold your shoulder over your hips," "get long," and "open yourself like a book") )

Here's another way to look at these two concepts: While the IFA could be described as highlighting the "players" and strategies of the movement, the EFA could be described as more of an external goal of the movement [19659002MotorcontrolaresometimesusedinterchangeablybuttheyaredifferentMotorcontrolreferstohowthenervoussystemcausesthemusclesandjointstoperformanactionMotorlearningismoreaboutacquiringnewmobilitythatremainsaftertheexercise(s)

Strong research supports the use of EFA to improve motor learning in more complex movements (eg chopping wood, lunges), sports-specific techniques). This is because the movement requires limited conscious thinking and becomes more unconscious and automatic with a knee-jerk control mode (Wulf et al., 2010).

Conversely, IFA increases self-awareness and leads to self-adjusting adjustments that would interfere with coordinated movements in more complex movements. I often refer to this scenario with my clients as "own-style" as we upgrade their corrective programs to include more integrated movements.

Let's go back to the woodcut example, if you instruct your client to keep his or her core, and yet the same muscles should contribute to the movement, a movement conflict may arise. If the abdominal muscles are too tight and strained, how are they efficiently eccentrically loaded at the top of the movement? And then: How do you contract to a maximum concentric until the end of the movement?

Biomechanically, you can not do both at the same time and optimize muscle synergy and timing for coordinated movements. Will the core tighten in the course of the movement? Yes, but the contraction force of the trunk muscles should not be kept constant by the movement, while it is dictated by higher levels in the brain. This is in contrast to the movement process, which is unconscious and automatic with a knee-jerk control mode.

When I work with patients with chronic pain at Function First, I use the metaphor of a force volume control that our muscles create during exercise. The volume knob at zero would be a neurologically "silent" muscle, while the volume knob at 10 would be a maximum contraction. Movement should see a fluctuation of the volume up and down not only on the basis of the task but also during different phases of this task. If the client is made to turn his core to an 8 on the volume control and hold it there throughout the movement, it interferes with the authenticity of the movement and does not allow for the necessary variability in the force of contraction through the movement.

The above-mentioned limitations of the IFA, which have been described as disadvantages for complex movements, may indeed be beneficial for minor corrective exercises, especially when working with clients in pain. Spatial and proprioceptive visual acuity is reduced in chronic pain. Therefore, the use of an IFA strategy with isometric contractions and / or isolated movements may increase corticospinal excitability (motor neuron activity of the brain and spinal cord) of the associated muscle groups. This can help the client regain the awareness and strength of the targeted muscle groups and ultimately contribute to more involved movements.

The following picture shows principles that we as pain-free movement specialists apply in the development of corrective exercise programs for pain patients. The picture summarizes an inverse relationship between IFA and EFA and the types of exercises that could best represent these principles.

Learn more about becoming a pain-free motion specialist.


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