Tuesday, November 13, 2012

No Such Thing As Muscle Memory

I have been speaking to students of Sports Science, and the prevailing belief is that 'muscle memory' is a misnomer. Muscles do not have memory, in that learnt physical skills are born of practice, repetition and long-term memory. Our nerve cells/neurons establish these muscle-mind connections, which allow us to play a musical instrument, dance, or ride a bicycle despite a mild hiatus.

The more we practise, or use the same muscles for physical-based skills the more refined these moments become. General, large movements are described as 'gross' movements. The finer, delicate, movements are developed through persistent, specific, practice that allows for more 'automatic' responses. Cognitive skills are just as relevant as are kinesthetic skills.

Having said all these, 'Perfect practice makes perfect'. Wrong practice makes for permanent. It is vital that we learn the correct methods and techniques early in our commitment to a new skill. Getting a coach to observe, assess and correct your strokes and movements is crucial to learning smoothly and significantly. Anyone can play the violin - badly.

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