That Which Does Not Kill Me Makes Me Stranger

So, the old rule of thumb that “you’re never as tired as you think you are is true:”:

bq. A spate of recent studies has contributed to growing support for the notion that the origins and controls of fatigue lie partly, if not mostly, within the brain and the central nervous system. The new research puts fresh weight to the hoary coaching cliché: you only think you’re tired.

bq.. In 1999, three physiologists from the University of Cape Town Medical School in South Africa took the next step. They worked a group of cyclists to exhaustion during a 62-mile laboratory ride and measured, via electrodes, the percentage of leg muscles they were using at the fatigue limit. If standard theories were true, they reasoned, the body should recruit more muscle fibers as it approached exhaustion — a natural compensation for tired, weakening muscles.

Instead, the researchers observed the opposite result. As the riders approached complete fatigue, the percentage of active muscle fibers decreased, until they were using only about 30 percent. Even as the athletes felt they were giving their all, the reality was that more of their muscles were at rest. Was the brain purposely holding back the body?

‘‘It was as if the brain was playing a trick on the body, to save it,’’ says Timothy Noakes, head of the Cape Town group. ‘‘Which makes a lot of sense, if you think about it. In fatigue, it only feels like we’re going to die. The actual physiological risks that fatigue represents are essentially trivial.’’

1 thought on “That Which Does Not Kill Me Makes Me Stranger”

  1. When we maximally exert ourselves physically we are in fact only using about 1/3 of our full physical potential. The brain limits our strength.

    In the ancient arts of the east there are meditative practices which enable one to use, at least for an instant to my knowledge, closer to our maximum potential. In life or death situations sometimes our brain will automatically let go of the restraints and allow our bodies to use its full strength. These are states of the mind which are normally uncontrollable, but not impossible to control. All of it lies in the potential of human consciousness.

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