Many people think that Physical Therapy is all about exercise and strengthening muscles. But muscle is only part of the equation.
A muscle by itself won’t work unless the nervous system tells it to contract. When a nerve tells a muscle to contract, it isn’t like an on/off switch. Instead, think of the nervous system like a pipe full of water. If the nerve is strong and healthy, it can carry a lot of water and the muscle contracts strongly but if the nerve gets turned off (from pain, lack of use, or a host of other reasons), then not a lot of water gets to the end of the pipe. Without good stimulation, the muscle will have a weak or uncoordinated contraction even though the muscle itself is strong. Over time, the muscle eventually weakens, but the underlying problem comes from the nerve.
Why is this important?
It turns out that a lot of movement dysfunction and pain isn’t actually a strength problem, and occurs commonly with low back pain.
A lot of people with low back pain are very strong, but their muscles aren’t being used at the proper times, and this leads to movement dysfunction and pain.
At Physiopoint Therapy right here in Crown Point, we have a unique system called RedCord that comes from Norway.
Called the ‘puppet show on steroids’ or ‘the rack’ by patients, RedCord is a unique system in physical therapy (we are the only physical therapy clinic in the Region to utilize it). Redcord is excellent for stimulating the nervous system by creating an unstable environment for the muscles to work.
Instability helps force the nervous system and muscles to activate in a safe manner, helping patients move better with less pain throughout their lives.
Here's a short clip from our office that shows Neuromuscular education using RedCord. This is a very advanced exercise with a lot of instability and the patient (who gave consent along with his legal guardian) has excellent motor control.
About the Author:
Matt Gentry, DPT
Sports Performance, Ortho and Pediatrics
Matt grew up in Oregon and attended Stanford University on a wrestling scholarship, where he received a degree in human biology. After graduation, Matt coached Division I wrestling at his alma mater while also competing internationally on the Canadian national team which culminated in representing Canada at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.
After retiring from competition following a fifth place finish in the London Olympics, he and and his wife relocated to the Midwest where he received his doctoral degree in physical therapy from Governor State University. Dr. Matt has an interest in serving clients with sports performance needs, orthopedic conditions, and pediatric clients with neurological conditions. He now resides in Manteno, Illinois with his wife and three small children.