“The Brain Reigns Supreme” – Perry Nickelston
The brain is in charge. It’s that simple. If we want to improve movement, we must understand the brain and its role in creating, shaping and changing how we move.
Neurofacilitation, a term coined by Maximum Training Solutions, refers to the strategic, methodical process of stimulating the nervous system to make permanent plastic changes in the brain that shape how we think and move. This is neuroplasticity at its best.
Improving movement patterns is important for everyone. Movement quality not only improves a person’s quality of life, but recent research demonstrates that it also affects longevity and cognition. As professionals, our role is to get people out of pain and moving well, so then they can move often. We often think of improving movement by fixing a person’s structure, or “hardware”. While this is important for some, most people’s poor movement abilities are related to a “software” issue embedded somewhere in the complex motor control system. We will explore the nervous system’s impact on movement quality and demonstrate strategies to improve these patterns quickly and easily through facilitating the nervous system.
How Neurofacilitation works
To understand movement, we first need to understand the various things that affect movement. There are 5 major items that affect how we move:
- Motor Control
Each factor can be broken down a number of ways to see how they contribute to how we move.
Now that we have a brief understanding of what qualities affect movement, we need to figure out how to improve movement. At Maximum Training Solutions, we work hard to simplify the process to make implementation of new strategies easy.
We have developed a 5-step system to organize and improve the corrective process:
Let’s take a minute to break down each of the parts of the progression.
Step 1: Evaluate
It seems like a simple, logical first step, but it is oftentimes overlooked. If we don’t know our patients, we can’t properly prescribe corrective strategies for them. The evaluation process can include a screen, assessment or diagnostic testing, or any combination of the three. The goal in this step is to take a global look at the body and find any and all dysfunction so you know where to go with your interventions.
Step 2: Unlock
This is where you open up a window of opportunity to train in. We can use a number of strategies here including kinesiology tape, instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization, self-myofascial massage, and neurodevelopmental patterning, among others. Forgetting this part of the process is common, but unfortunate when it happens. If we don’t unlock the brain’s control of the body, our long-term impacts likely won’t ever take hold. Because the brain controls all movement, failing to unlock it will feel much like beating your head against the wall, rather than improving how someone actually moves. For someone with stability issues, unlocking the nervous system may involve strategies to excite the nervous system. Conversely, someone who is tight and overactive, their unlocking process may involve strategies to inhibit the body’s control system.
Step 3: Encourage
Encouraging the body is usually focused on local interventions. This may consist of local activation exercises, or it might be stretching tight tissue. This part of the process is designed to assist the body in specific, needed areas that are hindering the body from moving well. In this third step, we nudge the body in the direction of permanent, corrective strategies.
Step 4: Integrate
Integration is where the true magic happens, as long as the prior three areas have been performed. This is the point where we utilize the primed nervous system along with our local remedies and lock them in with total body corrective strategies. These movements are designed to make permanent changes in the patient’s movement strategies. We have a large menu of movements and exercises that we can use in this step. The main goal is to make sure the body understands and recognizes the changes that have been made on a more local level. Without integration, the local remedies are often lost in a matter of hours.
Step 5: Analyze
The last step in the progression is to analyze and re-evaluate the progress that has been made. We are big fans of the test and retest model. If we don’t test a movement prior to our correctives and then retest after we have made our interventions then we never really know if what we have done has actually made a difference. This step may involve completely re-evaluating the body or it may be about looking at one specific part of the process to make sure you are getting done what you want to get done. After analyzing the patient, you may decide to continue with your corrective process, change gears to a new strategy or discontinue treatment all together. This step is also often overlooked by many professionals which ultimately leaves them and their patience wondering “what’s next?”
By following the 5 step system, you can ensure that you are covering all of your bases to improve movement patterns and ultimately decrease pain, improve performance, and make happier, healthier clients.
If you are interested in learning about Neurofacilitation for Better movement, attend one of our live events where we teach the 5 step process to improving movement through training the brain.
Do you own or manage a facility that is looking for high quality continuing education for your staff? We offer a flat rate for our onsite seminars that make your CEUs more affordable than ever. And, if done correctly, you can even profit from hosting a course by getting paid by other attendees to host. We would love to become your CEU provider! If you are interested in hosting a live event, contact us! There are incentives to hosting a live event.