April 15, 2019 | 15:00 | Medicine and ZLZ
Having learned to walk, talk, swim, ride a bicycle, a healthy person cannot forget how it is done. Everything happens mechanically. This applies to such skills as singing, writing, physical activity and even playing musical instruments – muscle memory is responsible for this. Of course, if you don’t practice for a long time, the ability to do certain things becomes dull – however, if you resume classes even after many years, you can quickly remember everything and get back in shape. “This is scientifically proven,” he explains Natallia Basantsova, assistant of the Department of Faculty Therapy, SPbSU. “Dialogue” figured out how it works, and whether it is still possible to unlearn the usual.
Brain and muscles
According to the specialist, muscle memory is formed by certain centers of the brain, which remember the sequence and speed of muscle contraction, creating a “melody” of movement. But making adjustments to the usual scheme is a difficult task for the brain; that’s why it’s better to remember everything correctly while studying. Otherwise, it may turn out not in the person’s favor.
“First of all, the brain remembers an action that is regularly performed during learning, when a certain stereotyped movement is repeated. This applies to many areas: sports, music, painting, singing – everywhere there is muscle memory. Our mind remembers how and in what sequence the muscles should be contracted in a certain situation, and stores the accumulated experience in the “library of movements”, mainly in the frontal lobes. It has both successful examples (for example, excellent swimming skills) and openly unsuccessful ones (for example, the usual spasm in the throat during public speeches). That is why the process of relearning, correcting an incorrect motor stereotype, represents a serious problem. In this case, muscle memory works against a person,” Natalya Basantsova explains.
She noted that improperly formed muscle memory can even affect a person’s well-being. This applies to things as basic as walking. Yes, many people are walking the wrong way today.
“The main problems are, firstly, in the asymmetry of the shoulders and hips when walking (in the vast majority of people, for example, the right shoulder is higher or lower than the left due to an incorrectly formed skill of the sheet), and secondly, due to pinched muscle groups in different areas of the body. This leads to the fact that instead of a nice and smooth criss-cross movement, where the shoulder tends to the opposite hip with each step, most people exhibit either tight shoulders that compress the neck and restrict arm movement, or a fixed hip area that is minimally involved in step. Since the average person can walk a distance of 5 equators in a lifetime, it is not surprising that a misplaced step leads to health problems. First of all, these are practically guaranteed diseases of the spine and joints, but also blood circulation disorders in internal organs – for example, a pelvis fixed by compressed muscles can be one of the factors of gynecological diseases, and bad posture – headaches, memory and attention disorders, “- says the assistant. department of faculty therapy of St. Petersburg State University.
Training and mental training
Muscles are endowed with a wonderful property by nature – the ability to learn. This is proven by the latest research of scientists. One of the most common examples that prove this theory is sports.
“With serious physical exertion, the number of active genes encoding muscle proteins increases, as well as the number of nuclei in the muscles themselves. That is, a person who trains for a long time is much better adapted to an active lifestyle than a person who ignores exercise. It is noteworthy that when classes are stopped, the obtained result, apparently, does not disappear without a trace. In case of resumption of training, it will be easier to regain form, because the muscles are ready for loads,” says the specialist.
Scientists have not yet found an exact answer to the question of whether there is a time after which it is impossible to return a forgotten skill. However, it is assumed that even after many years, the body can resume its once familiar actions. But, of course, for this it is advisable to periodically practice.
“Even if a person returns to this or that type of sport already in adulthood, it will be much easier for him than someone who has never done it before. This applies to drawing, singing, and playing musical instruments. It will be easier to recover these skills. Therefore, scientists believe that muscle memory is preserved for life,” the expert explained.
She also said that it is possible to “pump up” the body even without physical exertion – this aspect is used during the rehabilitation of athletes after injuries. So, if it is impossible to perform real exercises, it is suggested to mentally immerse yourself in the training process. Statistics from a number of studies show that this significantly improves a person’s actual performance when they return to exercise.
“If a person in his mind fully concentrates on performing a movement – for example, running – then his actual level of training will be higher than that of someone who did not do it. That is, the brain, by and large, does not care whether physical movement is performed or its masterful mental imitation. In good rehabilitation, this process is actively used. However, in order for imaginary training to have an effect, full concentration is required. In other words, a person should maximally imagine the sensations of contracting muscles, stretching of ligaments, the weight of the body and sports or musical equipment, even smells and sounds can be important and useful,” says Basantsova, noting that the process should be regular and very long. .
If a person suddenly could not perform some usual action, this may indicate health problems. In this case, we are talking about both severe overwork and brain dysfunction, especially its frontal lobe. Again, the severity of the diagnosis depends on the drama of the situation.
“If a patient comes to the doctor and says he can’t write or has forgotten how to ride a bicycle, the doctor will be very wary. In some cases, when such complaints developed quickly, they can be connected with neurosis or severe overwork. However, a neurologist is likely to still prescribe examinations to rule out dangerous brain diseases, especially if there are persistent movement disorders. On the other hand, if we are talking about very elderly people who have lost a skill gradually, then this can be one of the key signs of dementia. People with this diagnosis gradually forget their usual actions and, in the most severe case, can lose all motor skills, up to infants. If one of your loved ones complains about something like this, you should immediately consult a doctor, because many of these conditions can be significantly alleviated with the help of therapy,” says Natalya Basantsova.
If we do not consider such examples, then it is impossible to forget about some important things. Muscle memory will one way or another suggest the right way, while the person will not even think about the process itself. And even after decades of break, you can get on a bike and ride around the picturesque park.
Prepared by Alla Bortnikov / IA “Dialog”