Muscle memory is an acquired ability of the body to restore muscle mass and strength after a long period of rest, developing under the influence of physical activity, leading to long-term structural restructuring (change) of muscle and nerve cells.
The existence of this phenomenon, in certain circles (people paying attention to their physical development), does not require proof and is an unconditional fact. After a long break and the subsequent return to the gym, “experienced” (trained people) restore physical strength and volume faster than beginners recruit them. Muscle memory explains why this is possible.
The emergence of such possibilities is associated with physical changes and the formation of memory (unconscious) in the motor cortex.
Mechanisms of development of muscle (muscular) memory and recovery under its influence
Muscular memory has several physiological components, the development mechanisms of which are studied and already supported by a number of studies.
P reorganization of fibers (cells) of muscles
Muscles consist of fibers (cells), each of which is a syncytium, that is, the result of the fusion of several cells. The process will combine the cytoplasm, but not the nucleus, so the cell contains several nuclei (myonuclei), evenly distributed along its length and surrounded by ribosomes, in which protein synthesis occurs. As muscles are subjected to physical exertion (training), an increase in the number of nuclei occurs, which control the synthesis of more contractile proteins (actin and myosin) and lead to an increase in muscle mass (fibers).
Research scientists have shown that after the cessation of training and muscle atrophy in the course of several months, additional nuclei do not disappear, but simply reduce the functional activity and remain in “standby mode”. Given these results, we can conclude that these changes are long-term. With the resumption of the load, additional nuclei (more nuclei — faster growth) begin to function actively: protein synthesis and hypertrophic processes that are regulated by nuclear DNA are enhanced. As a result, recovery (increase) of muscle mass occurs in a shorter time.
With age, people muscle atrophy and very poorly restored after damage, because the pool of satellite cells is increasingly depleted and new nuclei in the fibers almost do not enter. To avoid these problems, it is necessary in youth to engage in strength exercises in order to accumulate a supply of myonuclear, sufficient to maintain the muscle mass in old age.
The formation of additional nerve endings
As a result of loads (training), thickening (hyperplasia) and an increase in the number (hypertrophy) of fibers occur. Their number increases as a result of: splitting the hypertrophied fibers into slightly thinner ones, the growth of new muscle kidneys, the formation of undifferentiated cells (satellite cells), which are transformed into myoblasts and further into muscle tubes. Before splitting, there is a reorganization of their motor innervation (innervation of skeletal muscles), as a result additional motor nerve endings are formed on hypertrophied fibers. Due to this, after splitting, each new fiber has its own motor innervation.
MMMotor training, the development of procedural (unconscious) muscle memory
Motor learning is a form of procedural (unconscious) memory that is formed as a result of the execution of a specific motor task through multiple repetitions, until the neural system communicates as necessary.
This component of muscular memory is similar to the standard memorization of information.
Until recently, this phenomenon was associated exclusively with motor (or procedural) training, which leads to an improvement in neuromuscular junction as a result of increased excitability of motor neurons and the emergence of new synapses. Also crucial in the learning process are the basal ganglia and the cerebellum.
At the first study of the motor task (exercise performance), the movement is often slow, hard and easily destroyed without attention. With practice, it becomes smoother, a reduction in the stiffness of the limbs occurs, and the muscular activity necessary to perform is performed without conscious effort.
In the motor cortex of a trained athlete, who started training after a break, there is an accelerated growth of new vessels and improved nutrition of the motor areas, secreting neurotrophic factors.
P.S.Muscular memory is a huge motivating factor for the resumption of activity and our further development.