Why Motor Repatterning?
As discussed in the Nervous System section, the body goes through a set of structural changes based on the activation of the stress response, and these structural changes change our movement. As an example, in fight or flight, both the pelvis/hips and the shoulder girdle shift to positions that limit their mobility. The lumbar spine and the thoracic spine then become hypermobile to make up for lack of mobility in the hip and shoulders. Hypermobility of the spine can then become a dominant movement pattern in the body, and this can lead to deterioration of the bones and tissue around the joints, dislocation of ribs, and other problems.
When our nervous system is in the fight or flight state for extended periods of time, these structural and movement patterns begin to dominate. These fight-or-flight-based motor patterns can create problems over time that may manifest as chronic pain, injury, or limited movement and activity. They can also trigger our body to return to the fight or flight nervous system.
The Fajardo Method® Approach
The Fajardo Method® uses the conscious focusing of attention to change motor patterns. Simply focusing attention on an area of the body increases blood flow, cellular activation, and the amount of sensory nerve signals that are being sent to the brain. Through the nervous system’s information processing and response function, the brain is then able to collect more information, make a decision based on the information, and send out the most appropriate motor response. This is the basic process in which the body is able to make changes to itself.
To give an example of how this works, I will return again to the tendon guard reflex that is discussed several times on this site. The tendon guard reflex shortens the Achilles tendon and changes the position of the talus bone (in the ankle joint), the heal bone, and others, which changes gait and weight bearing and decreases joint space. When working with students on the tendon guard reflex, sustained focused attention often creates changes in the length, shape, and tissue quality of the Achilles tendon. The changes in length in particular enable the talus and heal bone to return to a more optimal position. Gait and weight bearing change accordingly, and joint space increases.
Clients will then continue to focus on the selected body structure for 7 days, which is the amount of time it takes to establish a new motor pattern. It takes 21 days of unconscious collecting of sensory information (after the habit has been built over a week) for the body to integrate the new motor pattern as the dominant motor pattern. In this way, it is possible to change the body’s movement and structure over time in a way that the body is able to sustain. This strengthens the body’s ability to be in a parasympathetic state, and also can increase efficiency of movement and improve mobility and performance.
The Fajardo Method’s® movement and motor repatterning work can help with a number of health goals, from addressing limited movement ability and chronic pain, to helping improve performance, to reducing physical stress. See each of the topics below for more information.