Muscle Memory is a term used to describe how we seem to perform tasks better after previously practicing those tasks.
This may be simply warming up, which prepares the Central Nervous System for what's to come. Often it is creating a quicker response to a given stimulus.
Every time we repeat or learn a behaviour our body notices. Chemical reactions take place to ensure consistently repeated behaviours occur more quickly and efficiently each time they are performed.
This chemical process is known as Myelination.
Myelination is an anatomical term that is defined as the process of forming a myelin sheath around a nerve to allow nerve impulses to move more rapidly.
Repeated actions result in a thicker myelin sheath. Giving us better muscle memory.
Perhaps muscle memory can be interpreted as myelin wrapping around particular circuits according to particular signals.
In order to optimise muscle memory you need to practice perfectly and deliberately.
Practice is responsible for developing your skills and response.
Better practice makes for better results. Poor practice poor results.
The myelination process doesn't give advice it just makes more efficient what you practice.
So it makes sense that if you are going to practice a new skill, do it with the best form you can learn. Because ......Practice makes Permanent.
Poor form can lead to injury and limited success. It is really important to have good teachers and coaches. How do you know if you are efficient at what has not been taught to you? Are you an efficient runner? It may not matter to most of us, but those that want to pursue a sport where running is important, being coached how to run can be vital to improving competitiveness and preventing injury.
A sport like Triathlon, may call for running, swimming and cycling coaches.
Similarly, going to the Gym without supervision could easily lead to poor form, ending with poor results and eventually injury. How often do you see mates helping mates. Initially the advice might not do much damage, but as load and reps increase technique becomes very important in avoiding injury.
I have had many clients tell my they avoid exercise due to pain in joints. Only to discover poor form is impacting their ability to perform efficiently and without pain.
As we age our ability to create myelin starts to diminish. This makes learning of new skills more difficult than when we were young. However skills and movement patterns highly myelinated over years still enable us to perform at enhanced levels verse peers.
A person that has ridden a bike will be able to pick up that skill easier than someone who has never ridden.
Unfortunately some disease can start the process of demyelination, which means we become less co-ordinated and responsive. Multiple-sclerosis is the most common demyelinating disease.
To enhance muscle memory, gain skill and become efficient. Practice your skill or movement pattern often and with perfect form.
If you are unsure seek out a qualified coach. You will be amazed at the difference performing better practice can maker to how you feel and the results achieved.