120917 Engram development; the vital component to success
Exercise technique is something most professional trainers preach. But does anyone ever wonder why? After all it is common knowledge that more weight can often times be lifted if it’s ‘cheated’ up, and more reps can be performed if some of them are ‘cheated’ at the end of the set. So what is the big deal about technical proficiency? The big deal is this: ability, longevity, and injury free movements result from learning and practicing good habits.
Instructing and practicing proper form in all aspects of exercise will enhance an individual’s ability in the long term. Technically correct exercise movement patterns decrease the risk of injury due to poor body mechanics, and improper muscle substitutions.
‘Practice makes perfect’ only if it is truly perfect, consistently, time after time. With proper instructions from the coach/trainer, the activity should become more accurate as the athlete makes the adjustments in form. The effort used to complete the movement tends to decrease and there is “less chance of overflow to the wrong muscles”(1) in the process. However, this pattern must be repeated many times to establish the neuromuscular pathways.
A technically correct and repetitive exercise movement effectively develops a pattern of movement called an ‘Engram’. By definition, “an Engram is an effect or performance that is imposed upon the Central Nervous System through repetition.”(2) The advantage of developing these pathways translates into the activity becoming an automatic unconscious process.
Exercising under a heavy load without having to think about ‘how to lift’ allows the subconscious to take over when the going gets rough. The athlete no longer has to think where their feet are placed, how to begin the move, when to breathe, which muscles to tighten and which ones to loosen in order to make the lift.
It is automatic IF the Engram has been previously developed.
(1) Therapeutic Exercise for Athletic Injuries Houglum. P.A. Human Kinetics 2001