The body’s “software”
First off, when we say Neuromuscular System, what do we mean? To break it down into medical terminology,
Neuro = Nerves
Muscular = Muscles
So, when we say neuromuscular, we are referring to the interaction between your body’s nerves and muscles. To use a computer reference, you can compare the neuromuscular system to the software on your computer. You can have the fastest processor and tons of memory and storage on a computer, but if you don’t have the right software programs to tell the computer to do what you want it to do, that great computer is pretty much worthless.
You may not realize it, but 95% of what we do in the world of sports performance and injury rehabilitation revolves around training the neuromuscular system in some form or fashion.
As it pertains to sports training, we attempt to create what’s called “Motor Engrams.” Motor engrams are specific pathways that the nervous system uses to minimize the work of the brain and spinal cord. As your body performs a certain movement or activity over and over, your body automatically creates one of these pathways, or engrams. Once an engram is created, your body will be able to perform that specific activity without nearly as much input from the brain. Your brain will tell your body to perform the movement and the engram will take over.
As an example, I would bet that whenever you brush your teeth, you perform the same procedure every time, starting on one side and systematically moving throughout your mouth without thinking about it. Your brain (your body’s software) tells your body to brush your teeth, and the engram takes over. You are able to brush your teeth without thinking about it by utilizing the very specific motor feedback loops in your body that you have created through training and repetition.
These engrams are desirable in sports, because they can create movement more quickly and efficiently than when your brain has to be involved. So, with practice and training, we are trying to create desirable motor engrams for any and all movements in sports. This may be as simple as performing a quality squatting movement, or as complex as a difficult agility run. The more efficient the software is in your body, the more likely you will succeed in sports.