The Top 3 Inputs That Dictate Your Brain/Body Response in Training

brain science neuro education neuro mentorship Apr 08, 2024
In our journey to comprehend the workings of the human brain and the body, one crucial aspect to understand is how it perceives and responds to threats(stress) and how that matters in conjunction with your training.
At the core of this process lies the brain's interpretation of various inputs from the external and internal environment.  At a fundamental level we in the training industry understand these 3, but what we have missed is how important that impacts our nervous system.
To understand why we have pain, why we slowly lose our ability for balance, change of direction, muscle tone, etc, we need to understand these three categories of brain inputs and their pivotal role in shaping the brain's perception of threat.
The term "threat" is our mentorship term for stress and its effects on the brain. It represents your brain's survival instinct, commonly recognized as the fight-or-flight response. However, what's crucial to understand is how this response impacts our bodies and this is what applied neurology brings to the training and therapy industry. 
Here are the 3 inputs.

1. Exteroception: The World Around Us

   Exteroception encompasses the external sensory inputs that the brain constantly receives from the environment. These inputs include:
   - Sight: Visual stimuli provide vital information about the surrounding environment, such as potential dangers or safe pathways.
   - Hearing: Auditory cues alert the brain to sounds that may indicate threats, such as approaching footsteps or alarm signals.
   - Smell: Olfactory sensations can signal the presence of harmful substances or familiar scents that evoke memories of past experiences.
   - Taste: Gustatory inputs inform the brain about the edibility and safety of food and other substances.
   - Touch: Tactile sensations help the brain navigate physical interactions with objects and organisms, discerning between textures, temperatures, and pressures.
Like I said, you know them, but we have overlooked the importance of them when it comes to our brain/body environment and their impact on the entire system.

2. Interoception: Listening to Our Body

   Interoception involves the internal sensory inputs related to the body's physiological state and emotional experiences.
These inputs encompass:
   - Awareness of bodily sensations: Interoceptive signals provide information about the body's internal processes, including heartbeat, breathing rate, muscle tension, hunger, thirst, temperature, and pain.
   - Emotional sensations: Interoception plays a crucial role in experiencing emotions and discerning their intensity, such as feelings of joy, sadness, fear, anger, or calmness.
   - Social understanding: Interoceptive cues contribute to empathy, perspective-taking, and social interactions, enabling individuals to navigate interpersonal relationships effectively.

3. Proprioception: Finding Balance and Stability

   Proprioception refers to the body's ability to sense its position, movement, and orientation in space. This category of input includes:
   - Sensory feedback from muscles, tendons, and joints: Proprioceptive signals inform the brain about the position, tension, and movement of muscles, facilitating coordinated movements and posture control.
   - Vestibular sensation: Inputs from the inner ear's vestibular system help maintain balance, spatial orientation, and equilibrium, crucial for activities such as walking, running, and maintaining posture.

The Role of Inputs in Threat Interpretation:

   Inputs from exteroception, interoception, and proprioception collectively contribute to the brain's interpretation of threat levels. By continuously monitoring these inputs, the brain assesses the environment for potential dangers and evaluates the body's internal state for signs of distress or vulnerability.
For example:
   - Exteroceptive inputs alert the brain to external hazards, such as sharp objects, loud noises, or unfamiliar surroundings.
   - Interoceptive inputs provide insights into the body's physiological responses to stress, such as increased heart rate, shallow breathing, or muscle tension.
   - Proprioceptive inputs enable the brain to maintain balance, stability, and coordination, crucial for responding effectively to threats or navigating challenging environments. 
Learning how to DECREASE these responses and describing the brain's response to threat is the primary premise we teach our Next Level Neuro Students.
Your body reacts to these 'threats,' providing feedback to the body such as tight muscles in specific areas, like tight calves during a squat due to heightened alertness in the brain to the up-and-down motion.
For example, teaching the brain to perceive safety in that up and down motion, akin to our bouncing drill, can enhance squat performance without necessitating calf or hip mobility.
While the adverse effects of stress are widely recognized in the health community, in our mentorship, we move beyond merely advising individuals to "work on their stress." Instead, we focus on instructing our students how to assess the brain and then the action steps to diminish the perceived threat.
In doing so, we facilitate repair in areas of the brain associated with a client's specific pain, range of motion difficulties, strength weaknesses, and more. This process hinges on the brain's interpretation of threat, which relies on the seamless integration of inputs from exteroception, interoception, and proprioception.
Understanding how these inputs shape the brain's perception of danger provides insights into our body's responses to stress, enabling us to develop a comprehensive applied neurology menu in conjunction with our current biomechanical education.
After reading this, logically, your next educational step entails comprehending how these interpretations influence the brain's decision-making process and the subsequent activation of protective mechanisms.
These threat protective mechanisms encompass any issues your client may present, including pain, range of motion limitations, balance issues, speed, agility, vision, posture, and beyond.

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