More About RIO Method
Muscle Teamwork is organized by your “back” brain – the part of the brain that handles automatic, non-conscious functions. One system of nerves sends feedback from the body to that part of your brain, and another sends impulses from the brain back to your muscles. The muscles react to those signals and make your body move.
Posture and movement require the coordinated action of more than 650 muscles. The slightest movement — even the intention to move — initiates widespread activity in your brain and in nerves and muscles throughout your body.
First, the proprioceptive (pro-pree-oh-sep'-tiv) systems provide information to the brain. Tiny receptor cells that lie within your muscle fibers and joint tissues send feedback through nerves that travel through the spinal cord to the brain. Next, many specific communication patterns take place within the brain itself. The eyes and inner ears, for instance, send feedback about the orientation of your body in space and about your balance. Last, motor nerves carry signals from the brain back to your muscles, creating movement.
This large neuromuscular system allows your brain to shift muscle use instantaneously to meet the ever-changing demands of movement and balance and to keep your body stable and oriented whether in motion or at rest.
An orchestra conductor has a musical score showing when and how each instrument is to be played. A football coach has plays which assign each athlete his role. Just like the conductor or the coach, your brain organizes all your movements, tells each muscle when and how to work, and reads feedback from your body about the outcome.
Human brains learn “heuristically” — that is, by trial and error. You were born with the capacity to learn to move your body. How well your MT develops depends on your individual experience. During infancy and childhood your brain used everyday activities and play to learn which muscles to use, how to control them, and how to use muscles together to accomplish tasks. Unfortunately, it also learned MT lessons during the trauma of accidents, injuries, surgeries, and other non-ideal demands on your body.
A less-known fact about learning is that the brain only learns in response to demand. The brain doesn’t set out to learn new things or upgrade your skills on its own initiative. Instead, life presents a new challenge or level of demand which you try to respond to. In the process of meeting this challenge, the brain integrates new information and, when successful, learns new skills. The brain aims at being minimally effective — at getting the job done reasonably well with a reasonable amount of effort and a reasonably small amount of error. If you want the brain to develop more elegant skills, you must present it with more sophisticated challenges.
Speech is developed in essentially the same way as MT. We are born with the capacity to learn to speak. Which languages we speak and how well we speak them are a matter of learning. If someone grows up in the US, for instance, they would not spontaneously begin speaking Lithuanian. Speaking English requires trial-and-error learning of how to pronounce sounds correctly, how to select proper words, and how to string words together into meaningful phrases. Without some formal education, a child would arrive at adulthood with very marginal speech skills. We would expect that person to make many errors in pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. The same is true for Muscle Teamwork. Without purposeful MT training, we should expect our MT skills to be only minimally effective and to include a reasonable amount of errors.
- MT plays a large role in how well-aligned your posture is.
- MT determines whether you move elegantly or awkwardly.
- Good MT makes new skills like swimming, golf, or workouts easy to learn and do properly. Poor MT may keep you benched.
- With good MT you improve with practice; with faulty MT you may not.
- During accidents and in sports, injuries tend to occur at your weakest link, the areas where muscles are not in condition or where MT is poorest.
- After accidents, injuries, or surgeries, good MT provides a sound environment for healing an area. With faulty MT, recovery may be delayed or prevent by continued misuse of the injured area.
- Unnecessary wear and tear adds up, especially as your body ages. When you are young and your body is more elastic and resilient, poor MT may not seem as costly. Once you reach adulthood, your bones finish growing and your tendons and ligaments begin to harden down. As your body becomes less forgiving and takes longer to heal, wear and tear takes a bigger and bigger toll. Unless you intervene and upgrade your MT, the impact of wear and tear is likely to worsen.
Muscle Teamwork methods focus on how your brain is using your muscles — up till now the missing piece of the chronic ache and pain puzzle. The MT approach makes heavy use of the proprioceptive systems both to evaluate your MT and to trigger your brain to upgrade it.
When MT is poor, muscles get worked inappropriately. Overworked muscles eventually respond with pain, swelling, thickening, stiffness, tearing, and weakness. In addition, faulty MT can place an uneven strain on related joints, resulting in joint pain, swelling, or joint damage. Once the MT is corrected, the inappropriate demands are lifted from the muscles and joints and they can begin to recover. Within a few days or weeks inflammation subsides, tight muscles release, shortened muscles lengthen, stiff muscles become elastic, and flabby muscles tone up.
If your brain has been using poor Muscle Teamwork day after day, the muscles involved will eventually break down and show symptoms of wear and tear. This will seem to be a permanent condition unless – and until – a change takes place the way your brain is recruiting your muscles. Once your brain begins using your muscles more appropriately, the muscles and joints can heal and most symptoms of wear and tear will disappear.
In a typical repetitive-use wrist strain the brain is coordinating the wrist poorly, so some muscles end up working too much while others work too little. Traditional methods focus on rest, bracing, icing, anti-inflammatory drugs, reconditioning, and modifying daily activities. These are all important pieces of the recovery puzzle, but they do not correct faulty Muscle Teamwork. If MT errors are the underlying reason for a muscle or joint problem like this, the problem is likely to persist unless the MT is corrected. Once the MT is corrected, the area can recover and return to normal functioning.
Muscle Teamwork changes take place in the decision processes of the brain, which are instantaneous in character. Some chronic problems, such as poor foot alignment or difficulty fingering a musical instrument, may be long-standing but may not yet involve much tissue change. In cases like these, once the brain finds and fixes the MT errors, more elegant alignment and use become immediately available.
Yes. Posture is a word we use for the brain’s continual re-positioning of our bodies. Posture isn’t actually a thing we have but rather a large group of actions the body is always performing. From this perspective it is easy to see why improving MT can produce a direct, visible, and permanent change in posture and alignment.
Highly specific muscle tasks are used to locate Muscle Teamwork errors. These tasks make faulty MT obvious — you can actually see and feel your brain fail to control a muscle in one movement while it controls the muscle completely normally in others. These tasks not only identify faulty MT, they also provoke heightened proprioceptive feedback to the back brain so it will pay attention to the error. Once the MT errors can be seen and felt, other highly refined muscle tasks are used to trigger the brain to create more effective MT. When the brain corrects the MT errors, the results can be seen immediately in normalized muscle responses. MT upgrades done in this manner are permanent — retesting the tasks months or even years later will show the improved MT still in place.
Other modalities rely on your existing Muscle Teamwork. Occasionally, however, they do produce a permanent shift in MT. This occurs when they accidentally elicit an organizational change in the brain. While many other modalities are effective tools in their own right, they do not aim at MT changes nor are they likely to produce highly improved MT. MT methods are designed specifically to find faulty MT and correct it. As a result, MT methods generate a very high level of permanent MT improvements.
Imagine, for a moment, that you brain is like a home computer. Like the computer, your brain is loaded with MT “software.” The proprioceptive receptors in your muscles and joints are like the keys on the computer’s keyboard. In order for you to perform a task, such as writing text, you must give the computer coherent inputs from the keyboard. Pressing keys randomly, for instance, is unlikely to get the result you desire.
Working on the computer, you use normal keyboard commands to use the software as it already exists. Entirely different keyboard commands are required to rewrite the software program itself. This protects the software from being overwritten too casually or by mistake. MT works essentially the same way. Your existing MT is like the existing software. To use it, you move, stretch, lift weights, practice your golf swing, dance, do Yoga, get a deep-tissue massage, and so on. To alter your MT, your brain must see feedback in different, specialized patterns. Most existing methods simply make the best use of your MT as it already exists. They do not contain the kind of feedback that can rewrite your software and create MT improvements.
Let’s continue with our computer example. All of us have probably seen young children sit at a keyboard and, by luck, hit some key combination that the computer responds to. This can produce fascinating results, some of which are never adequately explained even after expensive visits to the repair shop. Just so, true stories abound of legitimate MT changes, sometimes profound, which have occurred in the course of normal physical activity, sports, dance, bodywork, accidents, injuries, etc. As with random strokes on the keyboard, however, these results are neither common nor predictable. Thus most other modalities are not the tools of choice when MT changes are desired.
Hand in hand. Each field has its own area of concern and each makes its own contribution to top-quality muscular performance, injury prevention, and recovery. Upgrading your current MT should enable your body to make fuller use of any other help you are receiving.
Almost anyone suffering from common muscular aches and pains can benefit from the MT approach. Upgrading MT is also valuable for those recovering from surgeries, injuries, or diseases where better muscular organization is necessary for a return to full activity. Those suffering from degenerative neuromuscular diseases often can get substantial help with activities of daily living by making the best use of muscle functions which are still intact. Athletes and others facing high-level physical demands find that improved MT directly enhances their performance.