This article originally started out as the basis of how the nervous system can affect the muscular system, but when I examined my thought process, I began to realize just how vast the rest of the body can affect everything else.
At risk of oversimplifying – everything is connected, and everything matters.
On that note, the body is in a constant state of achieving homeostasis, which can be reflected via several systems throughout the body.
- The endocrine system reflects this through hormone release and absorption.
- If your body is lacking these hormones, it will reflect both internally and externally! (Fatigue, blood tests, etc)
- The nervous system reflects homeostasis via sensory input and the interpretation of these sensations.
- The muscular system reflects homeostasis via specific adaptation of muscles – if there is no stimulus or lesser stimulus than previous endeavors, atrophy occurs. And if there is a greater stimulus experienced at the muscular level, then hypertrophy (or strengthening) occurs, among other events.
It would be folly to ignore any one system with regards to enhancing performance, but these three are of the highest priority towards achieving the goals of higher performance.
- Hormones can be mediated via the foods we eat, and the stresses we experience.
- The nervous system can be mediated via rest and stress, and other sensors that we experience.
- And of course the muscular system is how we adapt to these stressors from a muscular and nervous system point of view.
If your skeletal system is modified (or when you break a bone), then your body will aim to restore homeostasis in whichever method is most efficient. But at the same time, I don’t think a goal of anyone’s is to specifically restore or increase bone density in your pinky finger – it is merely a byproduct of a sound exercise program.
With that being said, I’d like to state the obvious and say that these systems are all interrelated – you can’t expect to see gains in the gym without sleeping, and you can’t expect to sleep well if you can’t breathe properly (respiratory system).
Broadly speaking, the body experiences a plethora of sensory input: from the nerves on your fingers, to seeing something in your peripheral vision, or the beat of a song coming through your ears (which can increase or decrease your hormone release), it is truly underrated the amount of sensory overload our bodies are taking from a holistic point of view.
With regards to increasing performance qualities, my job is to provide a positive stimulus, while reducing prevalence of chronic injuries, along with shifting your homeostatic values to increase these performance based qualities.
On that note, the nervous system can influence the other systems in such an indirect way that it is naive to ignore its power.
For example, if your specific performance goals are valued towards an increase in muscular power (which can be quantified through rate of force production), let’s analyze a few of the items involved with that:
Power and Items That Affect Rate of Force Production
- Nervous System: Anything that improves motor unit firing!
- Muscular System: Anything that increases the number of motor unit firing will increase the amount and types of muscle fibers fired – so it is wise to choose the movement pattern that will help positively modify the rate of force production!
- Endocrine System: Over the course of an exercise program, it is expected for a positive influx of exercise related hormones to improve the release/absorption of these hormones to allow positive (muscular, cellular) gains to be seen.
- Digestive System: If certain foods are ignored, then muscular (and other systemic related) growth will be stunted, and reaction times will be delayed due to Ca+ and ACh stores not being restored during the exercise program itself.
And on and on…
Perhaps this is myself having a Dan John moment, but if you don’t respect the fact that if you don’t eat appropriately, you won’t excel. If you don’t train appropriately (and specifically), you won’t excel. If you don’t sleep appropriately, you won’t excel. So how the hell can you perform better?
Show me one youth athlete that is sleeping 8-10 hours a night, eating well, and training (let alone lifting with proper form!), and I can show you about 100 other kids who aren’t doing anything to help them grow. Point being that it is never one singular issue why your youth athlete may not be recovering properly – it is a multitude of items and the lack of respect towards a holistic approach that is shortchanging your son or daughter (or yourself).
While this post may have been more of a stream of thought writing activity for myself, I believe that this will be useful as I can reference this later on in several other posts that I will be writing about in the near future. With that being said, expect the next post to be tangentially related to this post, a quasi-series of sorts!
Keep it funky.