One of my clients gave me an awesome metaphor for the "neural edge".
Inspired by a diagnosis of high blood pressure at her annual check-up, she recently started exercising. She had never thought much about her body, and hadn't exercised in many years.
"I had this idea when I started that it was like cleaning out this house that hadn't been cleaned for a very long time. You wouldn't go in and start dusting wildly, because the dust would fly everywhere and you would be coughing the whole time."
She's not a senior citizen, but she started with the senior classes at the gym, and found them to be a very good workout.
She started walking regularly, but when she decided to try to run, she began by running for a minute at a time. To learn the power of a minute of something you haven't done in many years, try twiddling your thumbs for a minute.
Too easy? Try the action in the video below.
(Technical troubles, video coming soon! It's of someone doing a very simple but unusual manual task for one minute.)
Those blips, when the fingers and palms start to tire and lose their coordination, are signs of crossing what manual therapists think of as your "neural edge" for that movement. It's when the nervous system starts to show fatigue. The man in the video has strength and motor control for other movements. But for that particular one, he's starting to fatigue. When asked what started to go wrong, he said he could feel his forearms straining to accomplish the task. The neural edge is when other muscles start to pick up the slack to make the action happen. It's when you start to lose form. It's sometimes when accidents and injuries occur.
My client reckoned that she didn't need to push her neural edge to achieve her goals.
Exercise was just part of her overall plan. She also changed her diet, took meditation classes, and started to get massage to help her feel more in touch with her body. She said, "I've never had much body awareness, but I figure if I just study and practice, it's something I can learn."
But I can't help but think she's underestimating her body awareness. Her blood pressure is back to normal and she has lost 20 lbs., by cleaning and polishing step by step.