To feel complete in your healthcare regimen, it’s important to have your brain and body in the best condition. You have probably heard that in order to keep the mind sharp, you should do activities like reading and puzzles. You probably also realize the importance of exercise in keeping your body strong. But did you realize that they both impact each other? The connection is strong and understanding this can help motivate you in your therapy sessions.
When you get your body moving aerobically, it increases the size of the hippocampus in your brain. The hippocampus is the powerhouse of your emotions, memory and entire nervous system. Even walking and the light warm-ups you do before beginning a treatment session or workout makes your brain stronger. So whether you are getting exercise while at physical therapy, or building your strength up to be able to exercise, know that you aren’t just helping your body, but the brain. As you learn a new way to move, your brain remembers it, holding onto the positive experience in the future.
Whatever movement you are making with your body, it’s important to continually engage your mind in the move. When you “phone in” movements, you aren’t doing your body or mind any favors. This is why it is incredibly important to practice “mindfulness” when it comes to treatment.
Mindfulness is “having a moment by moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surrounding environment.” When you repeatedly tell yourself that a move is too hard, painful or impossible, you will act on the basis of those thoughts. When you are mindful about thinking positively, your body will better respond to the prescribed treatment. As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you are probably right.”
Direct Benefits of Mindfulness:
- Decreased Stress
- Improved Physical Execution
- Increased Brain Efficiency
This is how you build mastery in movement.
The Brain Network
The exercises you are given from your PT help you in a variety of ways. There are often many muscles that you have not noticeably used before and may need to learn how to engage them to compensate for an injury to a major muscle. The patterns of movement prescribed are felt through your nerves that branch into the brain. As you teach your body, so are you teaching the brain how the body now needs to move. Your brain learns how to adapt and this alternative movement will eventually become dominant to the brain.
As you can see, physical therapy not only helps your brain but also your body. See how we can help get you back to optimal health at Core Physical Therapy today.