What is Muscle Memory and why is it important in Ergonomics & Fitness Training?

Today’s Post is about Muscle Memory as this has come up a question in our day to day work with clients across Canada. This comes up most frequenlty with our right handed friends (we can’t all be geniuses) who insist they would not be able to learn how to use the mouse on their left side or use the numeric keys on the left side if they are provided with a left handed keyboard (in an effort to bring the mouse reach to within OPC’s recommended standard of 15″)
Our bodies using the brain learns to do a particular action through repetition. Most of us have been using the mouse on a daily basis at least for the last 15 years in our day to day jobs and in our home offices and playstations.
This has allowed for repetition of the skill in moving the cursor on the screen to specified locations.  This by the way is a fine motor task not easily learned by younger users in particular who have not fine tuned their motor skills yet.
With repetition comes “memory” in the muscles of the arm/hand in this case knowing the exact patterns to take and when. This becomes an efficient way for the joints to move and for the muscles to be efficient in their output.
To move the mouse or numeric keys to the left side will also require repetition as a means of learning this new motor skill and muscle memory. Fortunately brain neuro-physiologists have determined & measured the idea of “neuroplasticity” . This means a right handed person can indeed learn a new skill using the non-dominant hand/arm including use the mouse on the left side or the numeric keys on the left as well.
So, next time one of the OPC Ergonomists talks to you about using the left hand/arm so as to distribute the workload equally on your left and right side, let them know you know all about Muscle Memory and Neuroplasticity. This will be the fastest way to feel better and continue to be productive in the office.  JE Sleeth Senior Consultant and Physiotherapist

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