Neuroanatomy: Brainstem & Flexion

ready to release your flexible side?

Hoax or Hack? 

So my partner Dan sent me a Reel the other day, convinced that it was a hoax. Basically, this guy claimed that by doing 3 “brain hacks” you could improve your flexion (like touching your toes) in minutes. Dan was convinced this was nonsense.

Now Dan is pretty inflexible. So we did a test before to see if he could touch his toes with straight legs (he could not). Next he did these 3 silly little brain exercises (convinced nothing would happen, as he has NEVER touched his toes), and then when we retested…
Instant flexibility? HE TOUCHED HIS TOES! He was in shock. So what happened here that allowed him to seemingly magically get more flexible?

Well, as you’ve probably guessed, it’s all about the brain!

I wanted to use this story as a way to introduce you all to the power of activating certain parts of your brain for specific movement goals. Today we’re going to talk about the brainstem and how it relates to flexion!
Meet your Brainstem

Two areas involved in flexion are the Midbrain and the Medulla. Now an easy way to stimulate your midbrain is through the eyes, specifically through a practice called convergence (where your eyes move inward toward each other to look at a close object). This is because it utilizes your third cranial nerve (Ocular Motor) which stems from the midbrain of the brainstem.

An easy way to stimulate your medulla is through humming and using your tongue (like pushing it into your cheek for example). The humming stimulates the vagus nerve and the pushing into the cheeks stimulates the hypoglossal nerve. Both of these nerves stem from the medulla, which when activated helps improve your flexion!
Ready to give it a go for yourself?

Step 1: Test your flexion (like touching toes)

Step 2:  Extend your arm away from you with your thumb up.
Practice convergence (eyes moving inwards) by looking at your thumb as you bring it in towards your nose. Close your eyes and extend the thumb back to where you started. Repeat about five times while
humming too
Cross Eyed Emoji Icon - Download Cross Eyed Emoji Icon 859501 | Noun Project
 Step 3: Look at your nose for 20 sec and push your tongue into your cheek.

Step 4: Retest your flexion. Do you go farther? If yes then your brain liked this activation, sweet! 🙌
If not, don’t worry, we’re all different and your brain didn’t like this particular approach.
If you got worse, then your brain REALLY didn’t like it (don’t do it again).

Let me know your results!

x  Andie

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