We are all familiar with the phrase “Practice Makes Perfect” and to an extent that is true, but I like the saying or maybe a better way to say it, is “Practice makes Permanent”. That is certainly the case when we talk about Motor Engrams. A Motor Engram is a pre-disposed or a pre-set motor command in your brain that operates your body. There’s a certain number of nerves that are wired together, in a given pattern. When that neural complex or pattern is excited, it sends a group of signals out to the body. There is a Motor Engram for squatting, for pushing, for pulling, for twisting, for lunging. There’s a Motor Engram for starting your car. There’s a Motor Engram for tying your shoes. This is important, because these are how we become efficient or inefficient movers. Think about the first time you tried to ride a bike. It’s not pretty for any of us. What happens is your body has to figure out how to coordinate your balance, while holding your arms steady, while your legs are pumping, with the environment changing, you know the road is sloping. Maybe there’s a puddle in front of you. So your brain has to calculate all these different variables, so that you can ride straight, and not fall. So this is a very complex neural net in your brain, and it’s changeable. In fact is highly malleable, and that process is called Neuroplasticity.
A quick recap, Motor Engram’s are preprogrammed movement patterns, based on Neuroplasticity changes in the brain. So back to our bike example. The first time, not so great, you fell. The second time, fell again. How many times later you can ride your bike, and you’re not thinking about peddling. You’re not thinking about balancing, you’re just doing it, and that’s a Motor Engram. Pick a new sport that you play the first time, again not so great, and the more you practice it, the more efficient you become, via your Motor Engrams.
Stay tuned for more next week!