Voluntary movements don’t exist. Through will, we can only formulate purposes of interaction with objects (including our own body). The individual suggests objectives and the brain organizes the appropriate motor programs. If possible, economic, functional and without risk of structural damage. It’s achieved through learning. The first day of driving, the application to navigate the vehicle activates a program with too many muscles. This program is expensive and inefficient and stresses the structure. With practice, the brain gains cost-effectiveness.

Sometimes, unnecessary and parasite muscular contractions show up in our actions. They generate muscular tension, wasted effort … pain. They ease the appearance of trigger points. The individual isn’t aware of it, but with a minimum of concentration he can self-project the advice: “relax …” and eliminate that unproductive mechanical burden.

Muscular consistency can be influenced by the involuntary bonus of contraction ordered by neuronal stimulation, product of an excessive psychological stress over all types of uncertainties in the execution of the action.

The uncertainty that generates unnecessary muscular tension can refer, from the perspective of the individual, to the result of the execution (exams, reports, musical performance, sports …) or, from the perspective of the organism, to the consequences that the execution of the task may do to an structure classified as vulnerable, worn, arthritic …

Every action requires a proper technique, a program that saves resources and optimizes results. This involves motivation without excesses or defects, a touch of anxiety and concentration in order to comply, removing any poorly founded theoretical uncertainty about failure or physical cost.

You can be sitting in front of the computer for hours without it leading necessarily to pain and mechanical stress but, if psychological conditions of anxious uncertainty are attached, it will have the unproductive company of unecessarily contracted muscles… that end up generating a nociceptive signal for surpassing the limit of its metabolic resistance or for activating myofascial points due to this mixed state contraction that’s held on alert.

– If I work on the computer my neck hurts a lot. I’ve already been told that my spine is a mess, that it has multiple hernias … contractures, lumps … I shouldn’t abuse, but my job requires it…

The patterns of “I need …” but “it’s not good for me” are especially “harmful”. In these cases, it’s essential to avoid unnecessary muscle contraction, have economy and judgement on the motor circuits.

The routine, the everyday activity must have automated programs that enhance the non-contractile viscoelastic factors and small fixes of the small and precise spinal muscles. Postural hygiene is not about starching a pattern referred to as ideal and maintaining it at all costs. That only creates problems. It’s more complicated. Is a technique with mechanical and psychological components.

I have already referred several times to my activity as a musical performer and the role of my teacher.

– I don’t know if you’re playing the cello or not. What I can assure you is that it won’t hurt you. Sit well, relax… more… think… concentrate… feel…

Throughout the classes a more economic and efficient (better sound) program  was being automated. I think that activity was good for the structure… provided the technique was correct.

– The neck is very contracted… you have to learn how to look…


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About arturo goicoechea

Born in Mondragón, Guipúzcoa, in 1946. Head of the Neurology Department at the Santiago Hospital in Vitoria (Álava), Spain. Published books: Jaqueca, 2004. Depresión y dolor, 2006. Cerebro y dolor (Esquemas en dolor neuropático) 2008. Migraña, una pesadilla cerebral, 2009.

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