You know that strange but amazing phenomenon where you can climb into a car with a manual transmission and be able to drive it, even if you have not used one in several years? How about riding a bike? You can thank muscle memory!
- Muscle memory is a learned response that is stored in the brain and is triggered by repeating a task.
- Proper technique is important for preventing injuries when performing exercises.
- Learning a task correctly the first time is essential to creating good muscle memory.
How does muscle memory work? The best way to describe muscle memory is by using walking as an example. The ability to walk is one that took you a few years to master. As a toddler, you took many wobbly and ill-balanced steps before you could stay upright for more than a few moments. Then as you progressed, your steps became steadier and it was easier to walk longer distances. Finally you only needed to worry about obstacles and changes in balance as you interacted with different environments (a rock path versus a grassy one, or ice instead of cement).
With each milestone, you did not have to “relearn” how to walk completely, but only to make corrections as necessary. And as you learned, your brain stored the memory of what your muscles needed to do in order for you to walk. As you corrected, your brain only saved the “good” information and it tossed away the incorrect information. That is muscle memory. Your brain keeping a “go-to” list of the do’s and do not’s of a task. And eventually it becomes something that you can do seemingly without thinking about it, but really your brain is working hard in the background.
Why Is Muscle Memory Important?
Muscle memory is less of a skill and more of a habit. When many people think about creating a habit or learning a new skill, a common phrase they may say is “Practice makes perfect!” Well, that is incorrect, practice makes permanent. And permanent is a hard thing to correct. Repeating a new skill one hundred times will not help you at all if you are doing it wrong. It only sticks that much more into your head. Slow down, take time to adapt and do the task correctly.
A common culprit of this unfortunate downfall is exercise. There are so many unnecessary injuries that come from someone doing an exercise incorrectly and hurting themselves as a result. You may have been victim to a rolled ankle or strained knee while running. That was most likely caused by improper foot planting (the way your foot strikes the pavement as you land in your stride). Foot or heel pain can also be caused by putting too much strain on a specific area without the proper heel support shoes. So a good pair of shoes and the right equipment can make a big difference.
Before you start a new routine or use a machine at the gym that you have not used before, do a little bit of research: This can be as simple as asking another patron of the gym, but better if you can find someone who works there or works as a personal trainer. Online videos provide a lot of information on the proper use and technique of weight machines and exercise equipment as well, and you can watch them before you go to the gym so that you do not cut into your workout time by stopping to ask for help. Do not be afraid to take notes and keep them with you. You will be glad that you have something to reference if you forget how to set up or cannot remember a specific technique.
Safety, although an important aspect, is not the only reason to practice proper technique. Exercise movements were made specifically for a certain task. If you do that exercise correctly, it will target the right muscle groups and give you the best workout for the time spent. The benefits of muscle memory extend beyond a great workout. The changes that your body makes to learn that new skill and perform it with ease will also speed up your metabolism and increase the strength of your immune system. It works your brain out in a way that gives you better problem-solving skills as well.
How You Can Create Good Habits
As mentioned above, the most important aspect of learning a new task is to get all the pertinent information before you begin. So do not wait until you are holding up 50 plus pounds in lifting weights to learn the proper way to put them down without hurting yourself. Learn the beginning, middle, and end to every task. There is usually a lift, a pause, and a release phase to weight exercises. You may need to lift quickly, pause and then release the weight slowly but pushing it back slower than you pulled it towards you. It may also be the reverse. And each of those methods with have a different outcome and effect on your muscles. Be aware that sudden or rapid movements on the wrong equipment will hurt you and may even cause torn muscles or fractures.
The first few times that you do an exercise, do not hesitate to take it slower than a regular workout. This will give your brain and muscles time to record the important steps and remember how to do it later; creating good muscle memory. With each repetition, or as your confidence grows, slowly increase your speed. Try it at half speed instead of quarter speed, and go up from there. If it is an exercise that is similar to something you have done before, you may only need to be in the “testing” phase for a rep or two before you are ready to go. Do what works for you and learn it right the first time. Again, practice makes permanent!
Step into the perfect combination of support and comfort with our curated list of the top 10 best shoes for plantar fasciitis.
If you want to begin a new regimen, find a group that you can join to workout with. You will be able to help each other learn new methods and it creates a sense of accountability that simply is not there when you work out alone. This makes you more likely to stay consistent and safe as you increase your fitness.
KURU broad selection of shoes can help you find the right style for your personality while providing the best support for your feet. The KURUSOLE™ technology provides supreme comfort and gives your foot the structure it needs to align bone, muscle, and tendons so that you can walk with confidence. Forget about finding another pair of mediocre shoes and get the world’s most comfortable shoes to keep you going.