What is the Stretch Reflex (Myotatic Reflex)?

What is the stretch reflex (myotatic reflex)? From a young age, we’re taught that stretching is a necessary part of any workout routine. If we’re involved in sports or physical training, we stretch to warm up, cool down, and during breaks to help us stay loose. Unfortunately, stretching usually doesn’t accomplish much, mainly due to [...]

How Muscular Learning Leads to Pain and Degeneration

How Muscular Learning Leads to Pain and Degeneration Chronic pain is invisible, and can be all too easily ignored by people who haven’t experienced it. But if you suffer from chronic pain, you understand the stress, helplessness, depression, and fatigue that accompany it. You might deal with financial hardship as a result of missed [...]

12 Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Meditation

12 Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Meditation To say that it's been a stressful year would be an understatement. If you don't meditate, you may have considered starting as a way to calm your mind, stop worrying, and get better sleep. But starting a meditation practice can be daunting. How can you fit it into [...]

Let There Be Light! Making the Most of Your Serotonin and Melatonin

Let There Be Light! Making the Most of Your Serotonin and Melatonin Humans evolved living outdoors, exposed to bright natural light during the day and total darkness at night. The systems of our body rely on natural light to keep us healthy—our eyes and skin actually need to be exposed to daylight in order [...]

Forced Exercise and Stress Reduction Reverse Parkinson’s Symptoms

Forced Exercise and Stress Reduction Reverse Parkinson's Symptoms If you read last week's post Doctors Call for an End to the Parkinson's Pandemic, you learned that Parkinson's disease is most often the result of a complex interplay between genetic and environmental factors, which include exposure to neurotoxic chemicals, head trauma, lack of exercise, diet, [...]

Doctors Call for an End to the Parkinson’s Pandemic

Doctors Call for an End to the Parkinson's Pandemic Parkinson's disease is not new—descriptions of the condition can be found in ancient Chinese medical texts from 425 BC and Indian medical texts from 600 BC. There have been references to Parkinson's symptoms in documents from Greek, Roman, and other civilizations over the past two thousand [...]

The Amazing Possibilities of Neuroplasticity and Neurogenesis

The Amazing Possibilities of Neuroplasticity and NeurogenesisYou may have heard the phrase “neurons that fire together wire together.” This short phrase summarizes the synaptic plasticity theory of learning described by Canadian psychologist Donald Hebb in his 1949 book The Organization of Behavior.Hebb explained how the connections between neurons (brain cells) change as a result of [...]

Dopamine: Why We Always Want What We Don’t Have

Dopamine: Why We Always Want What We Don't Have Dopamine is commonly thought of as the “pleasure” chemical in our brain, but the reality is that dopamine makes us want things—and often inhibits our ability to enjoy them. A fascinating new book by Daniel Lieberman and Michael Long called The Molecule of More describes [...]

5 Incredible Stories of Self-healing and Transformation

5 Incredible Stories of Self-healing and Transformation We have an incredible ability to heal ourselves, beyond what science can currently explain. I am fascinated by stories of people who have found ways to cure themselves of incurable conditions. In this post I'll tell you about five of my favorite books on self-healing from aplastic [...]

Good vs. Bad Stress: The Critical Difference Between Challenge and Threat

Good vs. Bad Stress: The Critical Difference Between Challenge and Threat When we're faced with a potentially stressful situation, we automatically and subconsciously ask ourselves two questions: First: Could this situation cause me harm or loss, or is there potential benefit? Second: Am I capable of handling this situation? This is the transactional model [...]

How Gratitude Changes Your Brain and Body

How Gratitude Changes Your Brain and BodyThere's a trend in recent studies on human health: Mom's advice is proving to be the best medicine. When your mom told you to eat your roughage, go outside and play, stop staring at the TV, and get a good night's sleep—she may not have understood the underlying science, [...]

New Research on How Stress Affects Inflammation, Neurodegeneration, the Gut Microbiome, Cancer Treatment, and Relationships

New Research on How Stress Affects Inflammation, Neurodegeneration, the Gut Microbiome, Cancer Treatment, and RelationshipsStress is a particular passion of mine—I love learning how to reduce negative stress, and I'm fascinated by the ways stress affects our health. This is the first in a series of posts I'll be writing about stress in the coming [...]

The Placebo Effect on Pain Perception and Healing

The Placebo Effect on Pain Perception and Healing The placebo effect is a general term that describes the physiological effects of believing that we're going to feel better or heal from a condition. The placebo effect has long been discounted in Western medicine—when placebos work, we're just imagining that we're getting better, we're not actually [...]

What is the Gamma Loop?

What is the gamma loop? The gamma loop (also referred to as the alpha-gamma loop) is a feedback loop in our nervous system that regulates the level of tension in our muscles. The way the gamma loop works can get a little confusing, so in this post I'm going to explain it as simply as [...]

What is Pandiculation?

What is pandiculation? Pandiculation is generally defined as the act of stretching oneself and yawning, especially upon waking. However, our automatic pandicular response has far more significance than simply prompting us to stretch and yawn. As you'll learn in this post, pandiculation is a fundamental part of our neuromuscular functioning. In fact, when it comes [...]

Why Stretching Doesn’t Work

Why Stretching Doesn't Work From the ages of twelve to twenty-one, I was a ballet dancer. It was all I did and all I wanted to do. Being extremely disciplined, I stretched for half an hour every night before bed so I could get more flexible. And it worked—I got pretty darn flexible. Even on [...]

Sensory Motor Amnesia and Muscle Memory

Sensory Motor Amnesia and Muscle Memory Most people are familiar with the concept of muscle memory. When we repeat a movement like swinging a golf club over and over, the neurons involved in controlling that movement develop increasingly stronger connections. Existing synapses begin to fire more efficiently, and new synapses are formed as well. As [...]

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