Feedback Loop 2 - The Alpha-Gamma Loop
Here we’re drilling down a little deeper neurologically as this loop happens as the brain, nervous system, spinal cord, and muscles coordinate their actions.
The alpha-gamma loop is the communication or flow of information between your alpha motor neurons and gamma motor neurons.
Neurons are nerve cells which conduct impulses in loops.
The command center of the alpha loop is in the brain’s cortex.
The command center of the gamma loop is in the lower part of the brain, the brainstem.
So when you do a conscious movement, the motor cortex is being turned on and your alpha motor neurons go to work and contract the skeletal muscles to move your bag of bones around.
Your gamma motor neurons, which can also contract, though are not usually causing movement on its own, regulates tension in normal muscle activity.
So conscious movement happens in the motor cortex, though the gamma loop is activated in all movements.
In the muscles, there are cells which responds to a signal so we know or feel our position in space and this sensory information is part of our somatic nervous system.
The changing length or tension of these cells is tracked so the brain can fine tune to be more accurate or precise as you move.
The muscles also have a link to the spinal cord so we can move reflexively and not think about it like when we place our hand near a hot stove and move it away quickly.
Afterwards we can feel if there is any damage, freak out or laugh as the case may be. In other words, our reaction comes first to save us.
Getting Out of the Loop of Balance
In a similar manner, when we have a muscle cramp or spasm which can seem like it comes out of nowhere.
We react since this is a spinal cord level event and our muscles can then remain locked up or signals of pain may turn on.
When things get altered long enough, like if you live with chronic pain or you feel out of alignment and sense discomfort, then this loop can be out of balance.
This where it can be difficult to recover from re-injury.
You might go into protection mode and begin to splint yourself from doing a movement since you know the negative feelings which can arise.
If you continue along in this substituting hide-and-seek manner, then the pattern you're adapting can become a learned response or a way of movement thus becoming a program in the lower part of the brain.
So even though things can be out of balance, you can still walk, talk and chew gum to the best of your ability.
Restoring Balance to the Loops
The natural process to restoring balance happens through the entire act of pandiculation.
This is what healthy animals with a spine do to release stiffness and remind the muscles of their abilities.
For the human animal, who doesn't normally use this natural resetting process, getting back to balance in these loops is vital since the brain can change what it is has learned to program.
The program of creating more pain, stress, and tension can continus despite our best our efforts.
When you consciously and systematically go about it, you change the brain program and bring the muscles and movement system back online.
Then those comfortable feelings return as you become familiar with how to be in charge and restore the loops back to balance.
Watch our understanding of how this alpha-gamma loop works and how we can consciously apply a system of somatics exercises which uses the act of the process of pandiculation to reset the loop back into balance.