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The Mechanical Body

Premise Number One of the 5 Premises is considering briefly the idea that a human body is not a machine. The mechanical model of the body has been around for about 300 years. The discovery of the muscle deep tendon reflex brought the idea of pre-loaded machinery to the foreground, because as the muscle tendon was very quickly stretched the reflexive action was to contract the tendon’s associated muscle e.g. hit the patella tendon with a reflex hammer and the thigh muscle contracts to extend the knee.

Throughout life the mechanical properties of the body will change depending upon the tasks you demand of your body. e.g. sitting not very demanding whilst running for four hours very demanding. The symptoms of ageing are the same as de-conditioning, which will occur due to a lack of exercise, injury and unsuccessful rehabilitation.

Once the variety of possible functions of your musculature has reduced then you begin to load areas of your body much more than you would do if your body was healthier. A muscle has been described as being able to act as springs and motors as well as brakes, struts, tuners, meters amongst other possible functions. Simply a muscle can push as well as pull increasing the possible configurations of activity of a human body.

On returning to the deep tendon muscle reflex research has shown that the activity of a muscle can be affected by context e.g. chiropractor says extend your knee instead of lift your thigh as he hits the patella tendon with his reflex hammer; the resulting EMG recording of thigh muscle activity is altered depending upon the phrase used by the chiropractor.

We as humans are not simple machinery because our muscular function can be affected by the context of our thought / perception as demonstrated by reflex activity change through a change in instruction altering patient perception resulting in a change in the way the thigh muscle responds to the same mechanical stimulus of the reflex hammer.

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