From birth through infancy, the initial creation and then progression of organized movements ultimately create a walking pattern. We develop reflexes that can be defined and create milestones and markers ultimately allowing our brains, more specifically neurons to wire together, fire together and lay the landscape for our innate ability to move without actually “thinking about it.”
The overall developmental progression that creates movement patterns is complex, and all movement is intertwined into development itself, gradually integrating pathways for repeated movement to occur.
When all of these movement pathways are available and utilized, then physical, emotional and cognitive growth from childhood to adulthood is supported. However, many things can alter this development causing lifelong issues that are oftentimes treated as mere symptoms yet identifying altered neurological pathways is usually overlooked or simply not considered. And even if the orchestration of these key reflexes were developed when you were a kid, our daily life, repetition and stress cause roadblocks in the patterns the reflexes ultimately create. This can cause our body to compensate to move, accelerating body-wide issues from joint pain to neurological disorders.
It’s really a system that occurs naturally
If I recall correctly, I first heard Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen discuss the concept of reflexes and responses as being orchestrated like the alphabet for motion. From basic patterns to complex, sequential movements, from birth until we are about two years of age, we establish a baseline for cognitive choice making that shapes our physical and emotional behaviors. Just like skipping a letter in the alphabet would cause words to be misspelled and communication to falter, if developmental phases or milestones are missed when you are a child, over a lifetime it can cause limitations and difficulties in how we perceive, move, feel, and think.
The curiosity must arise for those parents with newborns as to how we can shape the environment around an infant to assist the natural ontological processes so motor skills and self-organization can occur. From propping a baby’s head all the time instead of allowing them to move according to their own process of organization to true congenital or neurological impairments; many things—both genetic and environmental—can alter the natural progression of developmental sequencing. Of course there are so many things parents do that can negatively impact a child from keeping them in a pen or constantly in one of those walker-strollers to abuse or trauma either in infancy or in early childhood. There are just as many supportive things parents can do to enhance the proper development of reflexes, reactions, and movements that a child will use throughout their lifetime into adulthood.
The human form has instincts and self-preservation components that can become activated to a point where it’s a constant state of natural balance. It often leaves a rigid survival pattern—stress response—fight or flight mode in a constant state of action. This can show up as emotional and physical disorders both in young children, adolescence, and into adulthood.
You can rewire yourself in a positive way!
The good news is that neurological pathways can be rewired and new pathways can be created. It was once thought that neurons that fire together, wire together and once they do you are forever going to use that pathway. Think of it like sledding down a hill and carving out a groove in the snow from a repeated pathway taken. It gets easier and easier to go down that path. Well, that’s sort of how the brain and neural pathways work. The more you repeat a habit, movement, or reinforce a belief or idea the more easily you will create that movement, do that habit, or stick to your idea no matter what.
To reintegrate and re-pattern neurological pathways has always been done with skilled support of a neuromuscular therapist or someone skill in methods such as Body Mind Centering created by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen. However, finding such a practitioner is like finding the needle in the haystack. Over the years of sharing these very types of methods with my clients spanning infants to adults I found the need to develop at-home self-care methods that could reinforce the new pathways I’d try to rewire in my private practice.
It took me over a decade to refine many of the one-on-one techniques and another decade to develop a simplified language so I could share these concepts in group environments to empower people to learn more about how we acquire ideal function and movement.
What emerged was what I called NeuroStrength and is an integral part of the MELT Performance Program coming out late fall of 2016. Learning how to rewire proper pathways is truly another missing link to awaken lost motor patterns and restore function. Although subtle and needing focus and understanding to do NeuroStrength, the techniques are in fact simple movements to improve neurological stability and restore pathways for movement. This reduces compensatory patterns, breaks neurological pathways that are out of sync with ideal range of motion, and restores connections body-wide to improve performance.
My focused techniques have helped me empower my clients to actively participate in sustaining or restoring ideal function even when irreparable damage is said to be done. I always say it’s like fine-tuning an instrument. You must reacquire the proper tone, connection, vibration, and frequency of the tissue and the mind. Understanding this is often times so far out of the mainstay concepts of diet and exercise the general public balks at the concepts because it all seems to simple, too easy to work. Yet they try it and sure enough in just a matter of weeks their body seems to move with greater ease and efficiency, performance improves, and energy increases.
Start today to improve performance and efficiency
Although the art of hands-on therapy and education can’t be matched in my mind, tuning into your own body is a profound step in self-care or self-therapy that can be achieved by anyone at any age if you know how. Hands-Off Bodywork can also allow the body and mind to find its way to improved performance and efficiency.
Regardless as to your limitations—genetics, accidental, environmental, self-induced—that have stopped you from truly experience body ease, mindfulness, and a sense of empowerment and connection, I hope those of you reading this take the first step in learning about MELT. Find one of our instructors, take a class, try it before you decide it sounds to complex, too difficult, or not something that you need. Exploring yourself and accessing your fullest potential of movement and stability is a unique offer. MELT is here to start you in a self-care process that can lead you down a new pathway to connect mind, body, and spirit into one, beautiful, cohesive form called YOU.