What is the Vagus Nerve?

The Pathway of the Vagus Nerve

I mentioned in yesterday's post, that the vagus nerve integrates with your internal organs and specifically with the fascia that surrounds those organs but as a strength and conditioning coach you can apply vagus nerve science much more directly into your day-to-day operations. Here are three ways you can use the vagus nerve in the weight room.

  1. Internal Regulation: As I mentioned above, the vagus is directly connected to our internal organs. As things change down there, our command center, the brain, must be made aware of these changes. The vagus is the highway that the messengers travel on. Check out the picture below and you'll get a great sense of all of its connections. Now would be a great time to read yesterday's post on the internal regulation and fascia.
    Vagus Nerve
  2. HRV: This is my favorite function of the tenth cranial nerve (the vagus). It dictates your heart rate variability. HRV is the measure of the distance between your heart beats. If your heart rate is very uniform and consistent like thump...thump...thump...thump...thump, then that's telling me that you are currently fighting with some type of stressor and trying to overcome it. If your heart rate is highly variable like...thump... thump...............thump. thump...............................thump........thump, then that's telling me that you are able to adapt to different stressors that are popping up. In other words, you're ready for me to apply some stress to you. You may call this a workout. This is what you might call readiness. This is a simple test that gives you an accurate score on the status of a complex system.  
  3. Facial Expressions: Stephen Porges, the author of the Polyvagal Theory, is on record saying that he tries to intentionally smile as much as he can in order to promote positive vagal regulation. This seems a bit much BUT it's the truth. If you're alone right now, throw the biggest smile on your face. There is no doubt that it will start to shift your mood in just a few seconds. #VivaLasVagus . I use this knowledge in two ways. First, I smile a lot in the weight room. I want to send messages to my athlete's mirror neurons that they should send some positive vibes through the Vagus. Secondly, I now know that I'm getting a snapshot of the state of their Central Nervous System based on their facial expressions. Not feeling yourself today? Feeling extra happy today? In both cases, it's going to show up on your face and I can and should be ready to make some changes if I'm savvy enough to spot it. 

If you want to learn more about how to incorporate the Vagus Nerve and other similar structures into a training program, you should start learning my genMAX training model. There are many structures in the body that have influence like this and after reading this article, I know you are now seeing how helpful it can be to be informed on this. Click the link below to start learning the genMAX training model for free.

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