Jo Hadley | Why the skin is just an extension of the brain
change, movement, bioplasticty, neurplasticity, exercise, posture, receptors
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Why the skin is just an extension of the brain

Why the skin is just an extension of the brain

We cannot change anything unless we are aware that something needs changing! If you do not know you are doing something, how do you know you may need to change that action/thought/behaviour?

If something is not working in your life then that can be a first sign that change is required, or at least something needs to be brought into your awareness?

If you are constantly experiencing soreness or injury from a poor movement pattern then you may need to learn how to change this movement pattern. Learning to become aware of how you are moving now – when you move the imbalanced way; compared to how it feels when you move the way that allows a better transfer of load & energy; is a first powerful step at changing towards a better outcome.

This is how I assist patients to change their physical movements – by comparing how they are moving now, to what it feels like to employ a better movement strategy. This assists the brain and body to alter – this is what is termed neuroplasticity and bioplasticity – the brain and body are able to change when presented with an improved alternative which is more efficient. The new movement then needs to be practiced enough times to override the previous movement pattern. Remember how you learned to drive or play a sport or learnt to dance? As you practice the new movement pattern your body changes & your brain changes. Also, if any impediments to you performing the movement more efficiently are removed, like a blocked area of connective tissue or tight area of muscle, via manual therapy techniques etc, this can allow your body to perform the new movement better, quicker.

To change the pattern you need to practice repeatedly – it rarely changes immediately. To practice efficiently and to obtain the result quicker you need to be mindful while you are practicing as this enables new connections in your mind and body to be formed. If you are thinking about other things then the pattern may never change or will be slower. You need to feel how your body responds to the new positioning & these new sensations help you in developing the new improved movement strategies.

Over time, as you improve and override the old patterns, then the new movement can be performed with less conscious intent upon it. Imagine a tennis player learning a new skill? They practice over and over and over – learning from all the feedback and errors, they keep trying to match what movement outcome they are intending with what actually occurs and eventually their movement pattern changes, becomes faster and more fluid and then when mastery is obtained can be performed rapidly from instinctive response.

How do we become aware of faulty movement patterns? Awareness is the same as being conscious of a pattern. What is being conscious? Science is showing through the study of tactile awareness, that learning to pay attention to the sensations coming through our body receptors, which are located all over our skin and also include our major receptors like eyes, ears, nose = consciousness = awareness= presence. Or to put it more colloquially, it is being in the NOW or the present moment. So you have to stay present while you learn the new movement pattern.

How do we become tactile aware? Every part of our skin has receptors receiving information from internal and external environments about temperature, pressure, chemicals etc. Research has shown that even DNA acts like a small radio antenna and receives and sends information electro-magnetically. We are chemical and electro-magnetic…our electromagnetic side is often overlooked but many medical tests use it e.g. ECG’s pick up our heart rhythm/waves, ultrasound uses sound waves. MRI’s use magnetic fields to detect issues within the body.

What our receptors on the skin and elsewhere detect from our external world, they relay signals to the brain and to the organs via the autonomic nervous system. So what happens on our skin surface not only can affect our brain but also affect our organs. This has profound implications for our physical and overall health. This also is a reason why manual therapy techniques can improve health internally. As skin receptors send signals via the autonomic nervous system & fascia to the internal organs/plexuses & to the brain. If these sites are receiving erroneous signals from receptors in the skin & superficial fascia then erroneous signals of reaction will probably be the end result. This can cause pathology & injury.

Just looking at how it can affect physical performance and health – If receptors on the skin are caught in tight connective tissue they may fire off more or less than they would if in an ideal environment. Just as we as individuals like to live in a peaceful harmonious environment in our lives, so does every cell and receptor in our body. If they are in an adverse environment then they will send signals to the brain and organs and this can create faulty movement patterns and dysfunction and may even affect organ functioning which may lead to pathology in the long term.

To get the right output from our body we need to give the systems running our body the most balanced and accurate information. Faulty information in, means faulty information out and this will continue unless our awareness is brought to the area that is the epicentre for the true cause of the imbalance. To get optimal healing we need to address where there is dysfunction in the system and address that. If you have some tightness in your muscles or fascia, then poor movement and pain may result, so physiotherapy can address that. I use Fascial Manipulation by Stecco to assess and treat imbalances in the skin’s & muscles’ receptors.

Also how we are thinking & feeling repeatedly throughout the day also creates new connections in the body & brain. This also affects our body posture. Thoughts create electrical activity and emotions are linked with an associated neuropeptide which can cause changes to the cell’s functions for the positive or not so positive. For example, a person who is confident & happy has a far different body posture than a person who is unhappy or depressed. So thoughts & emotions can impact our body posture & functioning.It is all connected. Often activities like yoga or Pilates can improve mental and emotional health by working with mindful awareness with movement.

With awareness all these patterns can eventually be changed – thanks to the body’s bioplasticity……how we move, think & feel can change how we function. How are you functioning? Could you do with some help with changing? Perhaps you want to start with changing your movement patterns, then I am able to help. If you require more mental & emotional focus then a psychologist may be your first place to start….

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