How to Use Your Survival Instinct to Rewire Your Brain

Published On - 1 June, 2019By Alina Butunoi

Hundreds of thousands of years ago, when the first early humans began to spread out across the Earth, they weren’t concerned about maximizing their athletic performance. They were concerned about staying alive.

Today, despite the incredible advancements human civilization has experienced, our brains are virtually identical to our ancient ancestors. In other words, our brains don’t care how fast we can run, how much we can lift or how far we can throw a ball. All our brains care about is one thing: survival.

In fact, whether we realize it or not, our brains spend an incredible amount of time keeping us alive by looking for physical threats and trying to respond accordingly. Is that bicycle approaching going to run into us? Are we going to hit by a car as we cross the street? Can we make it through the crosswalk before the pedestrian light changes? Everything comes down to threats and the old instinct of fight or flight. And all of this occurs deep within our brains without us even realizing it.

And yet, using modern science and breakthroughs in functional neurology, we can actually use this survival instinct to our advantage. Below are some of the key ways you can rewire your brain to improve performance and heal from recurring physical injuries and pain.

Rewiring Your Vision

Seeing the world around you clearly is one crucial way your brain determines potential threats. But believe it or not, it’s not your eyes that process the visual information: it’s actually your brain. If your brain can’t understand visual information or get a complete picture of potential threats around you, the brain’s natural response is to enter into survival mode.

In fact, in many cases, neck and shoulder pain isn’t necessarily caused by a muscle injury, but rather a vision issue. That’s because if an individual’s brain can’t process visual information effectively, they may unconsciously strain their neck or shoulders to get a closer look at something because their brain is demanding to get a clearer picture of potential threats.

Neuro performance coaches can help teach your brain to process visual information more effectively. This typically includes a variety of hand-to-eye coordination drills and eye-motion training to rewire how your brain processes critical visual information. It’s all about using the built-in survival instinct of your brain to more effectively process the world around you.

Rewiring Your Balance

Balance is more than just the ability to stand on one foot. In fact, it’s a complex system of nerves, hairs and fluid within your inner ear that passes along important information to the brain about subtle changes in motion and gravity.

Because the brain is constantly alert for signs of danger, if your brain isn’t able to process information from the inner ear effectively it may lead to potential issues. This is often how injuries occur and why many people experience the same painful muscle strains and injuries, with lower back pain in particular often being a symptom of balance issues. In these cases, it’s not simply overexertion, it’s the brain trying to protect you from what it perceives as larger physical threats.

Fortunately, neuro performance coaches can help rewire your brain to process information from your inner ear more effectively. This is typically done through a variety of balance exercises that are not only designed to help with muscle strength, but also rewire the pathways in your brain to better process changes in motion. As with vision training, the idea is to use your brain’s inherent fight or flight reflexes to improve balance and avoid future strains and injuries.

Rewiring Your Movement

When we move, our muscles and joints transmit crucial data through our spinal cord and into our brains. This information is then processed and a response is sent back to the appropriate area of the body. All of this occurs within a fraction of a second and is what allows us to move through the world around us.

Because the brain is conditioned to avoid potential threats, it’s also constantly on the look out for potential problems that may impact the way our muscles and joints move. If the brain is presented with a problem that it can’t easily solve, its natural threat response goes up and it may automatically limit the movement of muscles and joints. This is often how injuries occur and why many people experience the same persistent injuries or areas of pain. It’s not because of natural wear and tear. It’s really because your brain believes that there is a potential threat it has to deal with.

The good news is that neuro performance coaches have a detailed knowledge of how to rewire your brain to work more effectively with the receptors in your muscles and joints. This is typically done by moving the skin in key areas to increase sensation in the underlying tissue, open joints and improve muscle strength.

Rewiring Your Vision, Balance & Movement

Humanity has changed incredibly since the first primitive humans roamed the earth, but our brain’s instinct for survival is as strong as ever. Just like our ancestors, we can use this instinct to rewire our brains. When we improve our vision, balance and movement, magical things start to happen. Pain is eliminated, stamina grows and our inherent potential as human beings is increased. It’s a solution that brought to us by modern science but steeped in biology as old as mankind itself.

Are you interested in learning how to rewire your brain? Contact Align for Performance in Ottawa today to learn more.

About Author

Alina Butunoi

Alina Butunoi is one of Ottawa's most respected brain training and pain management practitioners. A previous nominee for the Ottawa 40 Under 40 business leaders, she is also a certified Movement Neurology Specialist with Z-Health, a cutting-edge neuro-exercise system that helps improve health, alleviate pain and maximize athletic performance.

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