This chapter is a brief review of some basic brain-body interactions and neural processes that occur during physical exercise and training. Understanding this interaction is essential for designing training programs, preventing potential sports injuries, and assisting rehabilitation by using integrative medical procedures. The aim of this review is to understand why dry needling is used and how it can benefit athletes by reducing physiologic stress during the different phases of their sports activities. Specific examples are treated in more detail in later chapters.
Brain research has revealed that every sustained activity—physical activities, as well as learning, thinking, and imagining—changes the brain and the mind. Thus each person's brain is different from those of all humans before him or her. Each time a new skill is learned or a new ability developed, the anatomy and function of the brain is modified on a substantial scale. Massive changes are associated with modern cultural specializations, such as sporting and artistic activities. The understanding of brain-body interaction is derived mostly from research on the brains of musicians, but the process of athletic training is very similar to that of musical training. Athletes, like musicians, have unique brains that differ from those of nonathletes, because sports are a highly specialized exercise of both brain systems and physiologic systems. How the brain is understood ultimately affects how human nature and human movement is understood as well. Sports are a typical two-way mind-body interaction. The processes of sports are motivated by mental processes. Training and exercise involve repetitive learning and memory storage. Sports performance is regulated by the brain systems both consciously and subconsciously. If injury occurs, the body will send feedback to the brain, which changes the behavior of the athlete for the purpose of both adaptation and survival. An understanding how the brain systems regulate sports performance helps improve sports training, enhances physical performance, prevents potential injury, and accelerates rehabilitation from injury or surgery.
All the topics in this chapter deal with neuroscience and systemic physiology. Common important concepts can be found in relevant textbooks. This chapter focuses on knowledge that is clinically related to the integrative systemic dry needling (ISDN) therapy, and readers who are interested in basic concepts of neurophysiology may refer to Doidge.1
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