The Athlete And The Primary Reflex Systems

The athlete, especially those involved in contact sports, utilises the primary reflex systems and the reactive muscle system, and the Fight/Flight reflex mechanism the most.  The muscles then are depended upon to ensure the survival of the body and so, must be prepared at times, under any circumstance to defend the body as necessary when needed regardless of situational factors – in the dark (at night) or in the light (day light), whether the athlete’s eyes are open or closed.

Whenf there is a deficit in the reflex system from a previous injury which leads to an imbalance in the internal equilibrium, then certain compensatory functions can be found when the individual is examined. The examination, however, needs to be conducted within the parameters of the situational factors that had existed previously such as whether the athlete’s eyes were open or closed and so forth and the ‘in relation to factor’. These examinations are geared towards understanding the primary survival systems, from how they work in the “primitive environment” to the reactive ability of the systems. Once this is understood through the information gathered then one is able to predict how the reflex systems will react in most situations.

Switching Reflex Systems Integration – How Integration works!

Taken from ancient Chinese knowledge it is maintained that this is an essential part of the basic neural organisation known as the “switching reflexes”.  Noted causes for switching reflexes can be physical-structural, emotional-mental, chemical-nutritional. The most common cause, however, is a prior injury.

Basically, when there is a stress on the nervous system due to an injury or fatigue, the system can become unpredictable regardless of prior information gathered. Therefore under the usual treatment protocols a proper diagnosis would not be attained making long term treatment very difficult. In the case of a prior injury such as a sprained ankle there may have been excessive or sudden stretching or strain of the peroneus muscle causing the proprioceptors in the belly of the muscle which are involved in the muscle fibres to bunch up. After the sprain has healed the proprioceptors located in the belly of the muscles which was also damaged still emits a memory signal that there has been an injury and not to over stretch this muscle. This signal causes the central nervous system to react to this signal even though there is no longer an injury, and resulting in muscles not wanting to go into full extension.

This is a built in biological protection, for there is a memory via the proprioceptors telling the brain not to go past a certain point in extension as another injury will occur and then becoming neurologically deactivated at an inappropriate time when strength and energy is needed most. This will manifest in the individual’s posture (possible scoliosis) and also causing their balance, focus and concentration to be off. During this process as well the compensatory functions can extend beyond the time that they are actually needed and so, the persons will exhibit a limp or back problems years after having a leg or hip injury that  actually appears completely healed.

For further clarification, Dr. Robert Frost illustrated the phenomenon by stating that “switching (neurological disorganization) …the signalling within the nervous system has gotten reversed in one or more of the three dimensions. The most common type of switching is right-left switching. If we compare this to a direct current electrical system (like in a car), right-left switching is like a reversal of electrical polarity. Where you should find a positive polarity, you find negative instead.

Everyone with learning difficulties or coordination difficulties has (at least most of the time) right-left switching. The extreme of the range of learning difficulties is called dyslexia. In my experience, all dyslexics are right-left switched. Right-left switching is characterized by mental confusion and/or physical dis coordination. When you hear yourself say "26" when you meant "62", or when you point to the right and say, "turn left here", you can be sure that you have become "switched"”

Reactive Muscle System Maintenance

In order to sustain the integrity of the reactive muscle system and to prevent against occurrences such as “switching”, then the proper functioning of the gait reflex system is critical. The gait reflex is essential as it coordinates all our movements such as balancing, walking, running, standing, jumping, twisting, turning etc that are necessary for basic survival. Based in the cloacal, labyrinthine, and ocular centering/righting reflex systems, the vestibular righting reflex systems and the related tonic neck righting reflex systems which are all primitive in nature, the gait reflex is cross over system and has the ability to affect the larger reactive muscles in a negative way if it is not functioning optimally.

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