The Nervous System – How, What and Wow!
Each time we participate in a physical activity, whether it be a strength workout at the gym, a hike up a local mountain, or that game of golf there is a lot of activity going on behind the scenes. Our nervous system is responsible for every activity that goes on in the human body. From completing that set of squats to your relaxed breaths while you sleep, the nervous system is responsible.
The body is filled with a system of webs consisting of nerves that connect every part of your body to the primary nerve center – the spinal cord and brain. Every nerve has a different job to do. Nerves are made up of a single cell called neurons and it is estimated there are up to 100 billion neurons in the brain.
There are collection of individual cells that follow within a sheath – an example would be the sciatic nerve or radial nerve.
The nervous system is organized into two parts – the central nervous system which consists of the brain and spinal cord; and the peripheral nervous system which connect the CNS to the rest of the body.
The Central Nervous System:
Consists of the brain and spinal cord. The CNS integrates the information it receives and coordinates the activity.
The Peripheral Nervous System:
The PNS consists of the sensory nerves and motor nerves. Sensory nerves feed information into the spinal cord and brain. The motor nerves carry information to other part of the body.
The main function of the PNS is to connect the brain and spinal cords to the limbs and organs.
The PNS is divided into the somatic and autonomic nervous systems. The autonomic nervous system is further divided into the:
Sympathetic System – responds to danger (fight or flight response) and is responsible for increase in heartrate and blood pressure along with increase of adrenaline and other senses that response to the increase in adrenaline.
Parasympathetic System – evident at rest and is responsible for constriction of the pupil, the slowing of the heart and dilation of blood vessels.
What Has This To Do With Training?
The nervous system listens to what you want your body to do and responds appropriately. The nervous system is constantly learning, adjusting and changing. The nervous system is very good at adaptation.
The increases you experience in strength or weights lifted when you embark on a weight-training program is due to nervous system adaption. The nervous system recruits more motor neurons, which in turn recruits more muscle fibers. This increase in fiber recruitment and neural coordinating leads to strength gains.
Proper training means the nervous system adapts and improves. But along with this, the nervous system must also have time to recover and rest between workout sessions. Fatigue of the CNS can lead to muscle fatigue and injury.
So, the next time you are in the gym learning a new exercise or practising your golf swing, don’t get frustrated if you struggle. Look at it instead as a learning curve and the nervous system is doing just what it is designed to do. Learn, adapt and perfect. Soon, you will master the new activity and ready for another challenge.
Till next time,