Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization: Advancing Therapy & Performance
Here at Gallagher Performance we not only strive to provide the best in chiropractic, rehabilitation and manual medicine treatments for our patients, but we also utilize comprehensive diagnostic methods and tools to help determine which treatment is best for you. This allows us to apply to most ideal therapeutic interventions. At GP, this could include any combination of the following: chiropractic manipulative therapy, manual therapy according to Lewit and Janda, Vojta Therapy, myofascial release, trigger point therapy, neuromobilizations, and dynamic neuromuscular stabilization (DNS).
Despite many of our patients having previous experience with chiropractic or physical therapy, they are unfamiliar with DNS. Gallagher Performance specializes in DNS therapy. Dr. Gallagher has been studying and utilizing DNS since 2007. His extensive training and background allows him to provide a level of care that is unique to the Pittsburgh area.
Since DNS has implications in both physical rehabilitation and training, we spend a great deal of time educating our patients and clients on DNS and answering some frequency asked questions. With that in mind, the goal of this article is to help educate our readers about DNS and the significance this intervention has as it relates to pain or sports performance.
What is DNS therapy?
DNS is a revolutionary European approach in the treatment of back pain and several neuromuscular conditions. DNS therapy is based on the neuroplasticity of the Central Nervous System and targets the cause of pain/dysfunction rather than its manifestations. DNS therapy evokes ideal movement patterns by manual stimulation of developmental reflex zones and utilizes specific exercises to improve neuromuscular control. The therapeutic benefits become significantly expanded from previous standards of rehabilitation. Any one from infants to adolescents, chronic pain patients to athletes can all benefit from DNS therapy.
How does DNS compliment chiropractic adjustments?
DNS therapy favorably compliments traditional chiropractic adjustments in several ways. When patients may be apprehensive about receiving an aggressive or forceful chiropractic adjustment, DNS offers gentle, non-forceful, low velocity manipulation that is well tolerated and safe. For those that receive traditional chiropractic adjustments, DNS works in concert to normalize joint function and restore muscular balance, leading to more sustainable improvements in reduced pain and improved function.
Often times, symptom relief experienced from a chiropractic adjustment can be short-lived with symptoms returning rather quickly. In contrast, when DNS is applied in a chiropractic setting, the approach allows for longer-lasting symptom relief due to therapy's ability to improve Central Nervous System (CNS) coordination and joint stability which is then maintained by performing prescribed home exercises.
DNS therapy simply enables a chiropractor to effectively treat and manage a broad range of musculoskeletal and neurological disorders. While traditional chiropractic may be limited in what can be done through chiropractic adjustments and passive modalities, DNS represents a powerful alternative to chiropractic care when dealing with pain syndromes and more complex structural pathologies where the effectiveness of traditional chiropractic is highly limited.
How is DNS therapy able to get me out of pain and moving better when other conservative therapies have failed?
The results achieved by DNS therapy are often difficult to achieve with traditional methods used by chiropractors and physical therapists due to the physiological phenomenon that occurs during treatment to minimize muscular imbalances, relieving painful protective muscle spasms, resulting in a more stable musculoskeletal system with improved spinal stability and postural awareness.
During DNS therapy, induced movements are controlled not locally, but by the higher levels of the Central Nervous System. This then results in faster and longer-lasting improvement in function and pain relief. When combined with exercise, the promotion of joint stability and ideal movement becomes habitual and independent of conscious effort.
How are DNS exercises different from traditional physical therapy or physical training exercises?
In the majority of physical therapy and chiropractic clinics, as well as in personal training settings, exercises are performed that simply train muscles in isolation. The patient who has shoulder pain and is only prescribed shoulder exercises illustrates this concept. The fault in strengthening weakened muscles through isolation training is that isolation training will fail to unify the painful or problematic joint with the entire locomotor system. Sure you can perform all the isolation exercises you wish, but this does not guarantee that the strength or coordination gained will automatically transform into adequate performance.
DNS exercises are applied in accordance with development kinesiology or essentially how we develop motor function during childhood. As we develop, reflexive movements (primitive, postural, locomotor) become more refined and coordinated, ultimately leading to specific movements we produce later in life such as walking, running, jumping, reaching, throwing, etc.
However, developing these skills does not happen magically. Learning to control the body and developing fundamental skills make up our motor milestones. These milestones mark critical points in our development and there is a progression that these milestones follow. This is known as developmental kinesiology. In simplistic terms, we need to be able to lift our head and support it, roll over, crawl, support ourselves upright, walk with assistance, and then walk without support.
The understanding of developmental kinesiology and critical motor milestones allows the provider to make exercise progressions and regressions during the course of therapy in order to appropriately address the underlying locomotor system dysfunction(s).
These exercises are applicable for patients with variety of acute and chronic conditions as well as for athletes who are trying to improve their performance and also prevent or rehabilitate injuries.
Often DNS exercises are conducted with active support from the clinician to insure that the patient maintains proper support and executes ideal movement. DNS exercises could include the use of stability balls or bands to further facilitate the desired response of the exercise. These exercises are not only used to improve the stability of the spine, muscle coordination, balance and strength, but also to increase the body's awareness and sensory integration.
All of a sudden, conservative management and treatment of patients and training of athletes looks a lot different than what is traditional accepted.
DNS is not only a magnificent approach for preventing and rehabilitating pain syndromes in the movement system it is also becoming extremely popular in sports performance circles. The same ideal patterns that keep an individual out of pain also maximize the efficiency of the movements, which not only reduces risk of injury but improves performance.
When you consider the principles of DNS, it truly is not about what exercises we prescribe or what exercises we perform, but rather what we are actually getting from those exercises when we perform them that is important. DNS provides a system of evaluation and treatment which follows motor development, thus providing an effective way to help our patients get the most out of therapy and our clients get the most out of training.
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