The Muscle-Mind Connection

When talking about “The muscle-mind connection” the first thing I tend to think about is weightlifting, as I’m sure those of you who recognise the term do to. Conventionally this term is used to describe the ability to really feel a muscle when it’s tensed (a good way to understand this practically is to point your feet and think about what’s happening in your calves). However over the last couple of years I have allowed myself to go down a different path with this concept.

When we become stressed many of us will begin to slowly raise our shoulders without thinking about it. This is a prime example of when the unconscious mind takes control of what are usually “voluntary muscles” (musculature that in normal circumstances you have control of). The subconscious does this to protect us from what it perceives to be a potential threat; with the shoulders raised the vulnerable blood-vessels that run through the neck are protected and the body becomes a smaller target.

This is when the muscle-mind connection breaks down.

So what can be done to restore the muscle-mind connection? The simple answer is touch. To go back to weightlifting for a moment, the first muscle most boys are able to tense is their bicep. The way they do it is by putting their hand on each others upper arms and focusing on trying to squeeze the muscle into the other person hand (as in the title image). Applying this idea back to the loss of the mind muscle connection that occurs when stressed, it’s amazing what the right pair of hands, be they a partners, a friends, or a therapists, just placed on your shoulders can do to get you to notice how much you’ve raised them. Something as simple as this can help interrupt the feedback loop that can occur when the body is stressed, which I will be going over in my next post.

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