The Motor Control System comprises those areas of the brain that govern movement. It has two primary functions: Motor Learning and Motor Memory. A child learning to walk is an example of Motor Learning. As motor control integrates individual muscle functions,it becomes more adept at balancing the body in gravity while moving forward (posture and gait). Once motor control attains a certain level of capability from this process, it compiles the sequence of muscle actions into motor programming and stores it in Motor Memory. This way, we do not have to keep relearning the same activities.
When we get hurt, the injured muscles temporarily lose their ability to function normally. Motor control initiates Motor Learning to create a compensatory motor program, recruiting remaining muscles to maintain as much structural integrity and function as possible. This creates new motor programming which gets stored in Motor Memory, overwriting the original programs. After the musculoskeletal system heals physically, compensatory programs remain in Motor Memory, resulting in persistent tension, lost range of motion, weakness, and pain.
The Nemerov Method resolves these conditions by engaging motor control’s natural neurological processes of Motor Learning and Motor Memory. Functional muscle testing creates a therapeutic motor learning environment, providing needed sensory input for motor control, helping it see if it remembers how to isolate and activate the muscle fibers that perform a specific movement. If motor control no longer has that program in Motor Memory, the muscle tests “weak.” The experience of not getting the expected results causes motor control to realize it has forgotten how to activate the muscle. In response, motor control initiates Motor Learning, as if saying to itself: “that didn’t work, so how do I do it?”
During Motor Learning, the practitioner performs gentle release of the compensating muscles, and then retests the “weak” muscle. As that function strengthens, motor control compares the new results to the previous test, showing that it can activate the muscle. Motor control then effectively says “this is better than the first attempt, so I want to remember how to do it this way.” It encodes the new activation sequence and stores it in Motor Memory, overwriting the old, biomechanically inefficient program.
By incorporating the basic functional principles of Motor Control Theory into manual therapy, the practitioner can attain accelerated results and resolution. Over 90% of my clients have resolution, with an average stay of 4 treatments per client.
The Computer Metaphor
Motor control is like a computer system.
Computer hardware includes elements like processing chips encoded to make decisions, and hard drives, where software programs get stored.
In motor control theory, the hardware is the Motor Control System,along with the nerves that connect motor control to the musculoskeletal system.
Computer software includes programs like a word processor.Software engineers encode these programs, compile them when complete, and store them on a hard drive.
In motor control theory, the software is the motor programming which directs which muscles to activate, and in what sequence to activate them, for any desired movement.
When you click on a computer icon, a program runs from the hard drive.
Motor memory is like the hard drive. Correctly written programs express as normal, flowing movement.
A “buggy” computer program does things you don’t want, like improperly formatting a document or locking up your system.
A compensation pattern is a “buggy” motor program. It can express as “improper formatting” like painful movement or reduced range of motion, or as “locked up” muscles (spasms).
A computer program is made up of subroutines, each working with information and then passing the results on to the next subroutine.
In motor control theory, individual muscles are the subroutines.
To fix a malfunctioning program, a software engineer must find which subroutines are not performing correctly and revise the code.
In motor control, this occurs during motor learning, where motor control learns to activate different muscles in a new sequence that is more natural and efficient.
After a software engineer revises the code, the entire program is recompiled and saved onto the hard drive.
In motor control, a new motor program is “compiled” and stored in motor memory.
The next time you click on a computer icon, the updated program activates and you get the results you expect from the software.
In motor control, theory, you now remember how to move greater ease and flow, and it happens naturally without having to think about it.