After having my first child three years ago, I was introduced to a new way of movement to help my body heal from pregnancy, labour and poor movements patterns I had pick up (oh and an inability to breathe properly!). I had always been someone who loved to lift but my body had changed dramatically (Click here if you want more of the back story). This new practice was called Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (or DNS) which is now something we use regularly in practice and I would like to take some time to explain what it is, what our goals are and what you can do to help yourself heal using this technique.
What is DNS or Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization?
Created by the Rehabilitation Prague School, it is explained by them like this: ‘The nervous system establishes programs that control human posture, movement and gait. This motor control is largely established during the first critical years of life. Therefore, they emphasize neurodevelopmental aspects of motor control in order to assess and restore dysfunction of the locomotor system and associated syndromes.’
But what does that really mean?
DNS is a rehabilitation approach which stimulates movement control centres in the brain to activate how our bodies were meant to move. It does this by restoring and stabilizing locomotor function.
AKA: We need to relearn how to move like babies move in the first toes years of their life – how to lay on your tummy, pick your head up, roll, crawl, sit and squat, stand, walk and how to transition through all those movements, WITH proper stabilization of your core! These are the core building blocks and foundation of all complex movements.
Foundations of Human Movement
Infants are incredible. Watching our children learn how to roll, crawl or walk is mesmerizing. We do not teach them how to do these movements, but they somehow figure it out – this innate ability is encoded in their DNA.
However, it takes time and they must progress through these motor milestones in a particular sequence. During each of these sequences, the infant is relying on neuromuscular (meaning nerve to muscle) stabilization for the control of their motor system, controlled by their brain and nervous system (CNS – central nervous system). This programing of the central nervous system develops stable, properly aligned joints, ideal posture and flawless movements that are meant to last a lifetime.
What about in adults?
Injuries, pain, chronic poor posture, sitting for long times and a lack of movement, will lead to chronic compensation patterns in our body. In the short term, compensations are protective but at the same time they are destructive in a sense that they can lead to abnormal posture, unstable joints and weak/tight muscles.
For example, when you roll your ankle, you start leaning to the other side and may limp. This will affect your entire body – your other leg is bearing more weight and pressure, your spine has to adapt and your shoulders/head will shift to create balance in your body so you don’t fall over.
Functional stabilization is required and essential for movement of the head and limbs and it is key to proper spinal support when you are sitting or standing. This is all done unconsciously or automatic. Prior to any movement, all the short intersegmental spinal muscles, deep neck flexors, diaphragm, abdominal wall and pelvic floor act to stabilize the body using our Integrated Stabilizing System (as termed by DNS).
Using functional core exercises, you can retrain your brain-body connection to co-activate and stimulate optimal movement patterns! The goal is to regain control and stability of movements and with repetition, the ideal movement patterns become more normal and unconscious.
Included in this video library is a bunch of different things:
1. Functional Core Exercises
You may have heard us mention to you about the ‘3 months prone position’ or ‘3 months supine’ in the office? We now have videos of Dr. Sarah completing these exercises so you have something to compare to when practicing at home.
Every one of these exercises is something we should all be able to do, but it will take time and energy to master them! Starting with 3 months prone and supine is a great place to start and then transition next to table top and bear crawl as you become more advanced.
2. Brushing exercises
These exercises are particularly given to integrate primitive reflexes. They are only necessary if Dr. Thom or Dr. Sarah has recommended them to you or our child.
3. Neurodevelopmental Exercises
During an assessment with Dr. Thom or Dr. Sarah, you or your child may have been given specific exercises to work on. Included in this section is all the exercises we may recommend. Now, all children can benefit from being able to do them whether we recommended them or not (there is no in harm by any means).
4. Functional Movement Exercises
These are exercises everyone should be able to complete such as the squat, lunge, push up, overhead hold. If you are looking for some excellent body weight exercises to add to your routine, these are great ones to add.
5. Breathing and IAP (Intrabdominal Pressure)
Every person on the planet needs to be able to breathe properly to be able to live their best life. Here are examples of how to properly breathe using your diaphragm while activating your entire core.
Located here are a handful of stretches that we may recommend to you to do at home to keep you limber.
If you have any questions about any of the videos or how to best stabilize your spine for optimal function, please let us know.