How Stability Training bridges the gap between rehab and fitness
I have been working in fitness and rehabilitation for over 15 years. I’ve trained athletes, post surgical patients, and general peeps doing all things active. And across this time I have worked with many, many, many people in pain.
The story of a person coming to me in pain usually went a similar way when I started out. “I’ve had this pain for a long time – and it’s bothering me”.
So I, with my youthful zest, would go through all of the rehab protocols I had learned in my years of study, and a few days/weeks/months (depending on the person) later, I would send them on their way, pain free. With a cheerful goodbye, we would part ways, both so pleased with how ‘helpful’ I had been.
Fast forward a few years and I noticed a pattern. People kept coming back to me because they had “hurt themselves”. ‘Oh…I was doing great and then I was in this netball tournament/did this fun run/went trampolining with my kids”… and voila – the pain was back -and often some new problem to go with it.
And the thing was – it wasn’t a trauma induced injury – it was non-contact – i.e – they just used their body and suddenly there was a problem!
This frustrated me no end because I have high standards and am quite insistent that if someone works with me they walk away with ‘amazing’ results…
And so, after paying attention to these people for a while (and some trial and error admittedly) – I realised something significant.
There’s a gap between therapeautic exercise and conventional fitness.
I mean physiologically. For our bodies – there’s doing some small little exercises localised at a joint for rehabilitation, and then – there’s running, jumping, dancing, lifting heavy things and being a ninja…
And there’s a chasm of skills needed in between.
Post rehab, most people are out of pain, but if they leave their training there and jump straight into conventional activities, here’s what I’ve noticed –
- the muscles don’t yet know how to work together to stabilise a joint
- the spine doesn’t know how to effectively stabilise when using other joints in the body
- imbalances quickly return because we naturally gravitate towards what we are strong at and avoid our weaker areas – and asymmetry usually leads to pain, tension and eventually injury.
So I started to work with people for a little bit longer. I had been a trainer and an aerobics instructor anyway, so I started doing this hybrid of rehab and fitness training with people. And it was working!
This is when I realised that neuromuscular stabilisation (NMS) was bridging that gap. That if I trained people for just that bit longer – not to be ‘out of pain’ but through to being strong, fit, agile and capable (by achieving overall stability) – the results lasted, where previously they had not.
NMS was the link that seemed to be missing – for the people going around in circles between therapy and fitness. People who had learned to ‘put up with it’, who figured it was ‘just them and not much else could be done.’ There are so many methods out there – my take home message is that there may be something out there that’s right for you, that you haven’t discovered yet.
If you want to learn more about how NMS works in the body go to this post – http://stableandstrong.com.au/neuromuscular-stabilsation/