Over the last 18 months I have become mildly obsessed with neurologically based training. My accountant (who is also a client), claims it's because I am bored now that graduate school is finished and I need something to study. This is partially true- there is something inherently rewarding about studying and implementing concepts that are somewhat challenging to grasp. I am forced to think, try, and apply until I figure out how (and if) it works. On a more basic level, neurologically based training simply makes sense to me. It answers questions about things I have always noticed, but never really understood. It examines patterns, and it supplies ways to correct patterns that might be inefficient. It speaks to my yoga background, where I have trained with amazing individuals that have taught me effective techniques, but never fully explained "why" the techniques work. However, this type of training isn't for everybody, and it definitely isn't the easiest way to approach human movement. Outlined below are 5 lessons I have taken away during the last year and a half, and I am sure there are many more to come.
- Breathing is important. Not just important, paramount to good movement patterns, decreased pain, good shoulder mobility, and good hip function. If breathing is dysfunctional and isn't corrected, it can be very difficult (if not impossible) to get good quality movement. I have sat through almost 40 hours of lecture on this topic, and am just beginning to sort of grasp it.
- Reciprocal inhibition is critical to good movement patterns. Physical therapist and PRI instructor James Anderson says something along the lines of, "anyone can turn a muscle on. An expert knows how to turn muscles off." (This comes from the moykinematics home study course). Certain things we see over and over again as fitness professionals- tight upper traps, overactive IT band, quad dominance, overactive lats... The list goes on. Over the years I have learned to train around things so that I don't flare something up. A better solution is to turn things off so they aren't active, freeing up the proper stabilizers to do their job.
- There are many different ways to skin a cat (I think that's the saying. I have always wondered where that phrase comes from- aren't cats pets? And who wants to skin one? But that's a different blog post). Some people respond well to simply moving more. Yoga works really well for some, probably because it activates several muscle chains, there is an element of focusing what you are doing and telling your body how to move (neuro training). Pilates works well for others. Primal movement, CST, NKT, z-health... There are several acronyms that are effective at training the neuromuscular system. DNS and PRI resonated with me. This doesn't make them the end all, be all. My clients are making very positive gains and many of my clients are suddenly practicing breathing when they aren't with me, moving better, and feeling better. This is important to me. As a result, I will continue to learn these two methodologies, but that doesn't mean I will discount other techniques or be unwilling to listen to experts discuss them.
- Just because you go to a workshop, you are not an expert in the topic. These methodologies take time to learn. And practice. And a willingness to ask for help. If you aren't willing to do these things, I recommend learning something else. I not only do PRI and DNS regularly (it is not unusual to walk by my studio and see me with 2 or 3 manuals out, trying different things, figuring out how it all fits together), I attend workshops, ask questions of more advanced practitioners, and re-read informational material. I am willing to sit through lectures multiple times in an effort to understand the material better, and am constantly practicing on my clients. Again, this is hard, and more intensive than other training techniques I have studied.
- Test/Re-test is invaluable. I know other methodologies use this philosophy. Prior to PRI in particular, and DNS to a lesser extent, I hadn't fully understood how valuable it is to know whether or not you are on the right track. Watching someone improve in a matter of minutes is not only exciting to the practitioner; it boosts the client's confidence as well. I don't test every session, but when someone has something going on or I am working on something specific, it is a good way to test progress.
Learning is a process, and I am hopeful that as I continue to deepen my understanding of human movement, I will be able to have positive impacts on my clients lives and share my knowledge and experiences with others in the human movement field.
"The secret to mastery in any field is to forever be a student." Martin Palmer
Yours in health and wellness,
Yours in health and wellness,