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  • Writer's pictureRichard Portugal

Muscles, Memory, and You

Until the middle of the 20 Century, it was believed by those who studied the human brain, that by the age of three years old, the brain was fixed and unchanging; that the neural pathways were set in stone; that the brain no longer grew and, if damaged, could not be repaired.

Today, due to scientific research, observation and psychological analysis, we know that the human brain demonstrates a remarkable capacity to repair itself and forge new pathways for its neural impulses to travel. Physiologically, parts of the brain designated for a particular function can actually assume responsibility for other damaged parts. It is the reason stroke victims can regain the use of limbs or learn to speak again after damage to the brain; touch can be rekindled; hearing renewed; and the newest current research even reveals that vision can be reborn as neural pathways build connections to other areas of the brain not assigned to sight.

The human brain demonstrates plasticity, the ability to change and mold itself and respond to physical and emotional challenges. And this ability lasts a lifetime. A senior’s brain can change and evolve; in partnership with muscles and tissue memory, a senior’s strength, balance and cognitive fitness can be dramatically improved.

Tissue has memory. It is a shadow memory which has ramifications both physically and psychologically. During our lifetime, events stimulate the brain which then filters and evaluates and sends electrical impulses throughout our bodies. Our brain creates memories which, in turn, become embedded in our tissues; those tissues, whether fibers in our muscles or tissues in our organs, react to life’s stimuli in a preordained manner. Traumas that occur in our youth are set deeply within our psyche and, as we age, our adult emotional reaction to those traumas may automatically replicate those of our youth. If someone abused you as a child, you may employ as an adult the same defenses learned as a child. These psychological tissue memories can be altered through recollection and analysis and the recognition that we can change our thought reactions. Our brains exhibit that kind of plasticity; it can grow, learn and repair itself over a full lifetime.

Our muscular system demonstrates the same kind of plasticity; it can grow, learn and repair itself over a full lifetime. Muscles react to the stress of exercise by gaining mass and strength. In fact, a senior can proportionally gain more muscle mass through their workouts than an adult in their forties. As our brain recalls the effortless movement and strength of youth, our muscles remember their lost agility and power. Tissue memory employs coordination, multi-tasking and speed developed during our youth. Recall the adage about bicycle riding: once learned, it is never forgotten. That is muscle memory. Our muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints remember the coordination and speed from our youth. Those muscle memories need only be rekindled through exercise and proper coordination and speed movement to affect better balance and movement.

Our muscles want to be strong and tissue memory helps transform that natural propensity into the reality of improved balance and strength. Walking, arm and leg strength, balance and cognitive functions can improve. We need only to exercise and help our bodies and mind to remember!

Copyright © 2018 Richard J. Portugal All rights reserved.

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