Sean van Staden
Columnist
4 minute read
6 Jun 2021
8:15 am

To reach your full potential, focus on your brain

Sean van Staden

When advancements are made in our understanding of the brain, they tend to be potential game-changers.

A neuropsychologist attaches a machine to a woman to record her brain waves during sleep. Picture: Business Day/Gallo Images

There is still a lot we don’t know about the brain because it is incredibly complex, and the equipment needed for research is not as accessible to the average person to research a new, better way of training.

There are millions of people worldwide “body hacking” for faster gains and better performance.

Yet, there are only a handful of people working on brain hacking for better pain management, performances, and recovery. Therefore, this field takes longer to make significant leaps in technological advancements.

However, when advancements are made, they tend to be potential game-changers, backed by peer review studies, and for the most part, the good ones are medical grade.

I use the superhero Iron Man as an analogy and see most athletes as a developing Iron Man.

There is no single quality that will make you a super athlete but rather the collective greatness of all of them working together on a higher playing level.

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We all know how strong, agile and powerful Iron Man’s suit is because, over time, Tony Stark has developed all the areas for a specific reason, but as you watch Iron Man mature, what does he do to the suit that is a game-changer?

He upgrades the central processing unit – the suit’s brain – which gives him the upper edge in all his battles.

This upgrading of the brain has inspired many technologists because imagine if we as humans can process faster, think clearer, and operate at a level of immense efficiency.

How much better will you be in terms of both your sport and your well-being?

The last thing a competitive high-level marathon runner, swimmer or cyclist needs is another hour on the road, pool or bike.

You get to the point of optimal efficiency and peak performance that the relationship between workload and reward becomes insignificant.

An extra hour will make all the difference and giant leaps in fitness gain to an unfit athlete, but not to an elite athlete.

Therefore they have sports science teams around them looking after all their performance metrics and developing the weaker areas that don’t get the extra
attention. Areas like meditation, eye vision training, breathing techniques, recovery strategies, mental toughness training, sleep strategy, sports-specific problem solving, sport and position-specific intelligence, just to name a few.

The brain is a very useful tool. Imagine if you could start unlocking its potential and upgrading your abilities. What type of success could you achieve, or what kind of athlete could you become?

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A company MDCN Technologies developed Neorhythm, a wearable head device that uses non-invasive electro-magnetic waves and provides energy to the body and stimulates cellular functioning.

Millions of impulses pass between your neurons when playing sport, relaxing and sleeping.

The brain organises these electrical activities in different frequencies, from slowest to fastest.

This can best be seen through using an EEG device that shows the wavelengths of each state.

Gamma – 35Hz: Problem solving.

Beta – 12-35Hz: Busy, active mind.

Alpha – 8-12Hz: Very relaxed, passive attention.

Theta – 4-8Hz: Deeply relaxed, inward focus.

Delta – 0.5-4Hz: Sleep and dreaming.

It is essential to understand that your brain, from waking up to sleeping, operates at different brain waves.

For example, if you had only two hours sleep the night before a cup final match due to stress, the reason you could not sleep is that your brain was in a different state and operating at 12-35Hz and should have been between 0.5 and 8Hz.

What impact will lack of sleep have on your ability to problem solve, react or manage stress?

Your emotional state will be all over the show because all your body wants to do is slow down and sleep, yet you must force it to operate at a high level.

Lack of sleep will have consequences to your performance, but imagine a device that could ease you into a deep sleep by emitting a pulsed electromagnetic stimulation on crucial areas of the brain to create a mental environment that you want your brain to mimic.

Here are other areas that can help your performance and recovery gains:

Neuromediation
Deep sleep
Improved focus
Energy & vitality
Improved sleep
Pain control

To reach your full potential, you need to balance your training by working on the areas you haven’t dreamed of improving.