I hope you all had a fun filled Labor Day weekend. I sure did after being invited by a great family to spend the day with them on Roosevelt Lake. They had the most incredible boat and boy did they know how to have fun with it. If you can do it on the water we did. Water skiing, wake boarding, getting tossed around on an inflatable raft, knee boarding, and one of my favorites (namely because I actually was able to get up out of the water and do something) surfing were all activities one or more of us took turns at. It was a blast!
As I was trying to get up and out of the water first with a pair of skis on and then later with the surf board aptly named “Big Daddy”, I found myself visiting a common phrase I use with clients when they are learning a new skill at BodyBasics. The phrase is “groove the pattern”. What it means is simple. Repeat the same pattern of movement in the same manner, even with wording, until you no longer have to think it but instead can just do it. This concept aligns with a quote you may have heard at some time or another. You know, the one about practice making perfect. When you are wanting to master a new skill however practice alone won’t suffice. So instead the quote would be, “perfect practice makes perfect.”
Here’s the physiology of it. You see when you do an activity, say a Romanian Dead lift, your body has to coordinate a lot of parts to accomplish that movement. Think about it. It starts with your stance position. How are your feet positioned? What are your knees doing? How are you engaging your trunk and whole back side musculature in preparation for the movement? That’s just for set up and I did not even exhaust the list! Now actually do the movement. You get the idea. A lot is happening at the same time to accomplish the movement successfully.
As you go about learning how to position yourself to accomplish the movement of the RDL special neurotransmitters (communicators) found at your joints called joint receptors are gaining feedback about how you are placing said joints. And, as you “groove the pattern” they start to “memorize” where you are supposed to be and tell you when you’re there and also when you’re not. You might associate this with a “feeling” you get.
Also, your brain is very busy providing the right messaging from it to your spinal cord to the various muscles that are involved to produce the perfect movement. Think back to when you first learned Romanian Dead lifts. You will appreciate how much you had to think about where all of your parts needed to be. Then as you went along with repetition after repetition of them, sometimes wondering why we do them all of the time, you realized one day that you were simply doing it. And, you also noticed that it seemed to be easier despite it being the same weight and repetitions that you had been doing. That’s because of the neuromuscular adaptations that occur as you repeat over and over, with perfect form, the movement pattern. Your brain literally learns who needs to be involved and to what end thus conserving energy for you and making the communication more precise.
So, now when you’re doing something and you just are having a heck of a time figuring it out, don’t fret. First make sure that you know what perfect looks like. Then practice with precision at whatever pace that takes. It won’t be long before you have grooved yet another pattern.