Specialty Program - Youth

Dynamic neuromuscular stabilization the key to postural harmony and athletic excellence

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stretch affect
August 21, 2023

In the dynamic landscape of movement and wellness, Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS) emerges as a transformative approach that fuses ancient wisdom with modern science. Developed at the Prague Rehabilitation School, DNS taps into our primal motor programs, enhancing alignment, core control, and overall movement efficiency.

We’ll delve into the core tenets of DNS, explore its impact on combating postural challenges associated with desk-bound lifestyles, and why it has become a hot topic from Dr. Peter Attia’s popular book “Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity”.

Prague Rehabilitation School: the origins of Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization

Just as the name suggests, the Prague Rehabilitation School was founded in Prague, Czech Republic in the 1950s. Czech neurologists Vladimir Janda, Karel Lewit, and Vaclav Vojta are attributed with taking manual medicine to a new level.

While the traditional medical community had a heavy leaning towards structural diagnosis (looks abnormal and does not work properly), doctors Janda and Lewit stressed the importance of functional diagnosis (looks normal, but not working properly) and of observing movement quality.

Being neurologists it was obvious to them that many musculoskeletal issues were a neurological phenomenon rather than issues of the muscles and joints.

They hypothesized, if learned motor patterns are a product of the brain learning to adapt to the demands placed upon the body then treatment cannot reside in the periphery (muscles and joints) alone.

Rehabilitation for chronic musculoskeletal pain syndromes emerged from this philosophy and it remains the founding principle for many in musculoskeletal rehabilitation practices today.

The Founding of Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization by Pavel Koler

Being heavily influenced by Lewit, Janda, and Vojta Koler developed Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization.

Based on the scientific principles of developmental kinesiology, or the neurophysiological aspects of motor development of a child. This development shows how physiological movement and motor patterns start and how to facilitate and reproduce them in order to enhance performance and avoid injury.

Originally Koler used DNS in rehabilitation from injury but realized its potential as an athletic performance multiplier to enhance alignment, core control, and overall movement efficiency.

Breaking down the DNS in Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization

Dynamic = movement
Neuromuscular = the connection of our central nervous system to our muscular system
Stabilization = the synergy of our trunk and pelvis to coordinate postural functions

The Significance of Centration: Precision in Alignment

Centration isn’t just a buzzword – it’s a foundational concept within DNS. On a basic level, centration means finding a neutral joint position. By doing this, it provides a fixed point in an optimal position to move completely throughout a full range of motion. Proper centration establishes a solid foundation for movement resulting in efficient force loading and transfer reducing the risk of injuries and optimizing performance.

DNS recognizes that centration goes beyond physical alignment; it involves orchestrating the harmonious interaction of muscles, joints, and neural pathways.

A Symphony of Integration: Breathing and Core Control

DNS is a fantastic tool to understand how breathing creates stability through your core.

Through integrating key bodily functions – breathing and core control, we tap into our neural pathways to enhance coordination between these essential elements. In athletics, this is a critical skill to allow force generation and power. In order to throw a football or hit a baseball for distance, your body needs to create a stable surface providing a “push back” force effect to launch the ball.

Picking up a pen and picking up 100 pounds require different breathing leading to different uses of your core.

When you pick up something heavy it requires a lot more coordination. You must generate pressure in your abdomen and how you do this is through your breath creating intra-abdominal pressure. This pressure loads your abdominal wall allowing you to stabilize your core and manage the pressure of lifting 100 pounds.

Stretch Affect co-founder, Kyle Valery, offers an intro to Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization and demonstrates some basic moves.

The Gateway to Athletic Excellence: Movement Efficiency

The integration of centration and breathing empowers individuals to move, breathe, and perform with enhanced efficiency, stability, coordination, and precise movement elevating physical performance.
Movement efficiency is also helpful both in injury prevention and injury recovery as you will be injured less often and will be able to recover quicker.

Injury has hampered many talented people with very high abilities to never reach longevity in their sport.

Examples of longevity and excellence are Tom Brady and Roger Federer. Their ability to facilitate centration and quality of movement time after time allowed them to rarely get injured and continually be at the top of their game.

Longevity is the New Medicine… (3.0)

“We have reached the limits of medicine 2.0 capacity, and if longevity is something we are aspiring for, we need a new strategy.” —Peter Attia

Peter Attia’s book “Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity” explores Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization and its application for everyday life, not just athletics, and its impact on a life of lasting wellness.

Postural Harmony: A Shield Against Desk-Bound Challenges

As mentioned earlier, our body will develop unhealthy compensatory patterns in response to the demands placed on it.

There is no greater example of this than a desk-bound office worker.

In an era dominated by digital screens and desk-bound routines, DNS becomes a beacon of hope. By reactivating primal motor programs, DNS addresses postural imbalances commonly associated with extended computer use.

Upper cross and lower cross syndromes, two prevalent challenges, are met head-on through DNS. The methodology restores equilibrium, promoting optimal alignment, and helping individuals find respite from the strains of modern sedentary lifestyles.

Upper and lower cross syndromes are postural syndromes where there is a tendency of certain muscles to increase and for others to decrease due to continual forces placed on them.

Upper cross syndrome refers to the upper body’s pattern of tightness and weakness when the person sustains a forward head and rounded shoulder posture for long periods of time. Neck and chest muscles (pectoralis major/minor) get tight, and scapular, and neck stabilizers become weak. This leads to poor shoulder stability and control, reduced range of motion in neck rotation, shoulder flexion,  and external rotation,

Lower cross syndrome refers to the lower body’s pattern of tightness and weakness consisting of low back muscles, hip flexors, and weakness of glutes and abdominals. Tightness of low back and hip flexors tend to bring the person in an excessive arched low back position which can lead to low back injuries.

dynamic neuromuscular stabilization upper and lower cross syndrome
Beth Scupham via Flickr

Peter Attia speaks extensively about DNS on his podcast with Dr. Michael Rintala, a respected DNS instructor, whose insights and expertise have contributed to expanding the reach of DNS, making it accessible to a wider audience.

Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization is a compass guiding us towards holistic movement wellness. From unleashing athletic prowess to rectifying postural imbalances caused by desk-bound routines. By tapping into our primal motor programs, DNS provides a roadmap for postural harmony and athletic excellence.

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