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A Beginner’s Guide to Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization

What could possibly tear me away from my beloved New York City for a trip to the Midwest?

A visit to my parents in Michigan is always a good bet. Or, to learn from the dynamic duo Rich Ulm and Brett Winchester.

This past weekend, Rich and Brett were teaching a Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization Course through Rehabilitation Prague School in Columbus Ohio, so you know I had to be there.

You might be thinking, “Dynamic Neuro-who-a-whatta is a crazy mouthful. Why should I even care about this?”

Well, as you’ve definitely heard me say in the office, “Every mobility issue, tight muscle, or stuck joint is really an underlying stability issue.” Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (or DNS, for those in the know) gets right to the heart of that. Once you know how DNS can help you, you’ll be clamoring to include it in your treatment plan.

I’m going to lay out the foundation of DNS here for you today so you can understand what this clinical protocol is all about. Let’s dive in:

What is DNS?

So what exactly is Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization? The Rehabilitation Prague School explains it like this: “The nervous system establishes programs that control human posture, movement, and gait.

This ‘motor control’ is largely established during the first critical years of life.

Therefore, the Prague School emphasizes neurodevelopmental aspects of motor control in order to assess and restore dysfunction of the locomotor system and associated syndromes.”

But what does that really mean?

Put more simply, DNS is a rehabilitation approach which stimulates movement control centers in the brain to activate how our bodies were meant to move by restoring and stabilizing locomotor function.

Bottom line?

Let’s get moving like how babies learned to move those first two years of life.

dynamic neuromuscular stabilization exercises, dns exercise


Why should DNS be important to you? Functional stabilization!

Here’s the deal: functional stabilization is required and essential for movement of the head and limbs, and it’s key to proper spinal support when standing or sitting.

We don’t even know we’re doing it—stabilizing our body is automatic: prior to a movement, our short intersegmental spinal muscles, deep neck flexors, diaphragm, abdominal wall, and pelvic floor prepare to stabilize the body (this is called our Integrated Stabilizing System).

And why does this matter?

Every mobility issue, tight muscle, or stuck joint is really an underlying stability issue.

If one muscle (even just part of it) is dysfunctional, the whole stabilizing function gets out-of-whack and then movement is compromised.

Sound familiar?

You guessed it: Injury.

Other muscles will overcompensate to make most regular movements possible, but the inefficiency of the imbalanced movement eventually overloads the superficial muscle groups.

There is one upside:

In my practice, I can integrate DNS with Neurokinetic Therapy, which looks for compensations in the body through muscle testing. So not only can we see exactly where the problem is, we can fix it with stabilization protocols. How can you actually use DNS?

Glad you asked…

Dynamic neuromuscular stabilization

How do you implement DNS and get trained… again?

Here’s how we start: we do a thorough audit of a patient’s (that’s you!) stabilizing pattern with a healthy baby’s.

Then, ideal stabilization patterns are trained with specific functional exercises, targeting your Integrated Stabilizing System.

In other words, we give you exercises to teach your body to go from how it is moving to how it should be moving.

That’s not all, though:

The functional exercises also get your brain co-activated to stimulate and condition optimal movement patterns automatically.

Remember that automatic stabilization your body does that we mentioned earlier?

The exercises are retraining that, too.

The goal here is for the brain to regain control and stability of movements and eventually, with repetition and progression onto more challenging movements, the ideal movement patterns become normal and unconscious.

Functional exercises look like crawling

Most beginning DNS exercises derive from creeping, crawling, or rolling positions, and can include the use of equipment like fitness balls or resistance bands.

More advanced exercises include kneeling, standing, or tripod stances.

While performing the exercises, we have you actively supported to correct your movement patterns and train your mind to do it properly until it becomes truly automatic.

Sounds cool, but how do you know if DNS is something you need?

DNS is for everyone!

Should I try DNS? The short answer? Probably yes!

All kinds of patients can benefit from DNS:

  • if you are weak or elderly and want to regain stability of your body,
  • if you are a professional athlete (or even high-level amateur) who wants your body to perform optimally,
  • if you are suffering from intervertebral disc prolapse
  • if you have a chronic neurological disorders

All of these cases can see promising results.

We sometimes even use it with infants and adolescents who have developed unbalanced movement patterns.

But I can’t emphasize this enough:

DNS can be for everyone.

While we don’t use it willy-nilly without a thorough review of a patient’s needs, DNS improves overall spine stability and balance and fosters a mind-body awareness where natural, proper movement feels normal—something almost everyone can use.

It can also be integrated with other fitness regimes to train the mind and body to work together—getting you from point A to point B efficiently and pain-free.

Visit us at Urban Wellness Clinic to learn more about DNS and find out if it’s right for you.

In the meantime, I’ll be chugging away; expanding my knowledge of the newest and most cutting-edge innovations in the field to help keep you looking, feeling, and moving your best!

Best in health,

Dr. Emily Kiberd