An Approach for Correct Core Stability
Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS), it’s an intimidating mouthful, but bear with me while I explain this exciting approach for the restoration of correct core stability. Its applications are wide—from prevention and rehabilitation of chronic pain to the optimization of athletic performance.
We start out with perfect stabilization patterns
DNS is based on the fact that humans are genetically wired for correct muscle patterns for stability. During our first year of life, as the central nervous system matures, there is a gradual and automatic development of movement. The vast majority of us reach developmental milestones like sitting, crawling, and walking in the same way, at about the same age, and with perfect stabilization patterns.
But then, “stuff” happens…
Ideally, these innate stabilization patterns should stay with us all our life, but for a variety of reasons—injuries, posture issues, incorrect training, stress, anxiety—they are disturbed. Consequently, compensation develops and the required muscle balance for correct stability is compromised. In adults, the first indication of dysfunctional movement patterns is often discomfort and pain.
The DNS strategy aims to restore our innate movement pattern through specific manual treatment and training
An initial assessment identifies dysfunctional stabilization patterns. Some patients can correct the pattern themselves with just instructions, others might need manual treatments. DNS treatment and training rely heavily on basic neurophysiological principals of the movement system.
First, it starts with breathing
A common cause of poor stability is an incorrect breathing pattern. Therefore, the DNS approach begins with an assessment and correction of breathing. The diaphragm is a respiratory–inhalation muscle, but it also performs a very important stabilization function. There is strong clinical evidence that back pain is more prevalent in those individuals with reduced ability to activate the diaphragm’s dual function of postural stability and breathing. The correct use of the diaphragm stimulates the contraction of pelvic floor and abdominal wall muscles—“the cylinder”— which increases Intra-Abdominal Pressure (IAP). The co-contraction of these muscles regulates IAP and is key for core stability.
Then, there’s something called joint centration
The goal with DNS training is to achieve joint centration— where a joint is in its correct biomechanical position during motion and load. A joint that is poorly centrated will have ineffective stabilizing muscles that can lead to instability or stiffness, increasing the risk for injuries. In ideal alignment of a joint there is an efficient movement pattern. This also means that you can load more in your training. Joint centration is crucial, and sometimes the DNS practitioner has to manually place the individual’s joints in centration to facilitate proper stabilization.
You guessed it…there are exercises involved
The focus of DNS exercises is learning good quality core function and joint centration in extremities using proper IAP (remember…breathing). With incorrect breathing patterns, stability is compromised and exercises are not functional. This is why we start with slow and simple motions so that we can later maintain stability in quick, complex, sport specific exercises. To correct, reinforce, and make permanent, this neuromuscular training requires 10-15 minutes of daily training using specific exercises until proper movement becomes automatic.
Move Better, Feel Better, Perform Better
DNS was developed by Professor Pavel Kolar and his research group at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. It has been rapidly gaining attention and acceptance worldwide as an effective functional rehabilitation approach