What this means is retraining your body so that you use your body (including your neck) more efficiently, just like an athlete would do.
In effect, and to put it simply, it’s training you to be more powerful.
Nowadays the influence of technology is so pervasive in our lives that the younger generation is starting to have musculoskeletal ailments that were more typical of middle-aged or older people. Many are starting to have neck issues, shoulder issues, visual issues and more. It is apparent that the more we are allowed to develop the way nature intended for us, the healthier for us.
Take for example, wild animals don’t need any formal training, they just learn how to move.
Can you imagine what it was like to learn how to toddle for the first time?
- Can you imagine how you would have experienced the ground?
- What was the spirit with which you encountered the steps that lay ahead?
- One of adventure and curiosity?
- Or one of fear and hurting yourself and having to go to the doctor to have it checked?
The last question is a bit facetious, but it is meant to express a point:
Often, we find, that in adults, it’s difficult for them to be mindful of their movement the same way they were when they were children
- That our movement is basically a function of habitual ways of moving and thinking.
- If you’ve trained a certain posture, even inadvertently, you will probably use this strategy.
- If you are afraid to use specific movement strategy, or don’t know how, you probably won’t.
; they know too much now, or they have other (movement) skills that are very developed (relative to children) that they use to compensate for a lack of fundamentals in the way they move.
What does this have to do with neck patients?
We find a successful way to treat necks is to retrain them to move the way Mother Nature intended for them to move, by leveraging their biomechanics to improve power:
- or another way to think of power is to decrease the amount of input (effort/force) for the amount of output (power)
Just like in Judo, a small opponent can learn to flip and throw around a big opponent by leveraging their body, we can do the same for every day movements we do.
- We find that teaching people how to breath with appropriate diaphragmatic form goes a long way to helping them stabilize their core and offload accessory muscles (those muscles around your neck) from doing the breathing.
- The diaphragm is a very strong, big, flexible muscle that is stuck to the lungs and can expand the lungs directly.
- The accessory muscles of breathing are many muscles around the neck and chest wall that are designed to help “crank” out a little bit more breath if you really need it (e.g., if you’re huffing and puffing), but it’s not efficient (the way the diaphragm is) in breathing for us.
- However, most of us use accessory muscles to breath, although we used to use the diaphragm as babies and younger and/or fitter people. There are many reasons for this:
- decreased exercise
- social norms with the way we project body images (i.e., sucking in the tummy)
- tight clothing
- poor ergonomics
- lots of talking
- Keep in mind that we breath about 25,000 times per day. If you can give your accessory muscles (including neck muscles) a break from all this work, they will thank you. Remember, they were designed to crank out a little extra breath when and if you need it, not to replace the primary breathing muscle, the diaphragm. Using your accessory muscles to breath could be compared to using your calves more to run a marathon – it wouldn’t be an ideal strategy.
- Also, when you learn to breath diaphragmatically, you learn to activate the Transverse Abdominis, a large corset-like muscle that spans from the bottom of the ribs to the top of the pelvis, and wraps around your torso in a cylindrical shape. Activating this muscles gives you a lot of strength and helps offload your neck muscles.
- Then we find it useful to teach people how to use the main neck muscles the way they would have learned to use them (from interacting with the ground when they were babies) when they were babies and children:
- while they are lying down on their backs, stomachs, and turning their necks.
- People are often impressed at this point that pain starts to just melt away and they feel more powerful,
- And they notice that they are using so much more of their body to do the movements.
- Then after that, there is not much more fundamentals to neck neuromuscular control other than learning to integrate these lessons in the context of any of the movements you may do in day-to-day life.
- Just like there is an ideal neuromuscular control strategy to move the neck, there are also ideal ones for these other movements, and ideal neck neuromuscular control is then integrated into ideal “whole body” neuromuscular control.
You can learn more about this by watching our YouTube videos, also accessible through our webpage “Concussion Rehab Video Series
“, section on Neuromuscular Control.