Teach your muscles to remember
We use muscle memory every single day by regularly repeating activities. The theory behind muscle memory is that anyone learning a new activity, or practising an old needs to use the brain to do so. A child learning to walk gradually builds neural pathways using the conscious mind to give the muscles memory. Within a short amount of time, even without thinking, the child is able to walk.
Our neuromuscular system also needs to adapt to these activities we engage in. For example, if you walk or run 2k on a daily basis at the same speed, you will see the physical benefits after the first month. However, these physical benefits can taper off in the second month and by the third month, you will just be maintaining the same muscle memory.
Simply shaking the routine can help enhance muscle memory. Try walking or running at different speeds, varying the distance and combining your fitness regime with daily yoga stretches. Diversity is the key word when it comes to designing and maintaining your daily workout.
I alternate my cardio as often as I can. I walk a great deal, which builds up a lot of muscle memory, but I also cycle, practice yoga daily and have taken up jogging from time to time. These all shake up the workout and engage different muscles.
Yoga trains both body and mind. As you incorporate yoga exercises on a regular basis, your brain can develop muscle memory networks for these movements and the changes it experiences by reducing stress and increasing feelings of well-being.
The following pose is a form of back bend that uses the strength of the upper and middle back to lift the weight of the legs as high as possible from a starting position face down on the floor.
Most people find the locust pose (called ‘Salabhasana’ in yoga) quite challenging, but stick with it – and build that muscle memory! It improves flexibility, coordination, strength and stamina.
- Lie face down on your yoga mat.
- Exhale, raise the head, chest and thighs up from the floor at the same time
- Only the abdomen remains on the floor
- Keep the buttocks pushed downwards towards the floor by pressing the tailbone down
- Extend the arms straight back towards the feet
- Lift the chest and thighs further and look up
- Hold for 3- 5 breathes
- Exhale, release the trunk and legs to the floor.