Control: A Therapist’s or Trainer’s Greatest Gift

By Dan Hellman

I believe one of the most important gifts a physical therapist or trainer can give to a patient or client is to help them gain true control of their movement and posture. The proven way to do this is through Specific Proprioception and Awareness.

Your Most Important Continuing Ed Class

I’m offering a class in Specific Proprioception and Awareness through The VOYER School at H3 by Dan Hellman in Fort Lauderdale June 7-9. It is part of the Soma Training curriculum and will be taught by Guy Voyer, DO, the developer and master of Soma Training and Soma Therapy. In my opinion, it is by far the most important continuing education course a professional take.

Proprioceptors are like microcomputers.

A joint is simply a place where two or more bones come together. Its movement and function are controlled by proprioceptors, mechanisms located in the tendons, ligaments and articular capsules. They act as “microcomputers” that receive and act on signals from the brain telling them to open, close or turn a joint. It makes logical sense, then, that we need to train these microcomputers if we want to improve or restore the functionality of a joint.

“Own” what belongs to you.

Proprioception does this. The term comes from the Latin prōprius (“one’s own”), and reception, so it conveys the idea of receiving what belongs to you. It is, literally, an innate “sense of self.” It may sound new, but it is not a new concept. British neurophysiologist Charles Scott Sherrington, a Nobel laureate, coined the term in 1906. It describes the ability to sense stimuli arising within the body regarding position, motion, and equilibrium.

In the simplest sense, even a blindfolded person knows through proprioception if an arm is above the head or hanging by the side of the body. Your hand senses when it is near a hot flame even if you can’t see the flame, and it pulls away reflexively. But the sense of proprioception can be disturbed through injury or neurological disorders, and it can be improved in healthy people.

Proprioception therapy is effective following a sprain, to treat arthrosis, to recover articular mobility, and even simply to improve coordination, agility and mobility. Proprioception is very precise work in which we train a specific ligament, tendon or part of the capsule for each joint. You can’t pick it up on your own or learn by watching. You have to study it and learn it in a hands-on teaching environment, which is what we do at H3.

Proprioception and kinethestic awareness go hand in hand.

Proprioception goes hand in hand with Awareness, or kinesthetic awareness, which is why we teach the two methodologies together. What we mean by Awareness is the need to ensure that the brain is connected intimately with any area being treated. The cortex must be trained to become acquainted with and recognize every area of the body.

In simple terms, it is Awareness that allows a baseball player to hit a 95-mile-per-hour fastball with late movement. His brain has connected intimately with the parts of the body required to hit the ball after he has seen thousands and thousands of pitches. He doesn’t have to think once the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand; his brain causes his body to react.

Engage the brain.

How can an articulation be trained, a muscle strengthened, or a posture corrected if the brain does not truly know the area being treated? How does a spine remain straight if the feeling of rectitude is skewed, if the brain is only familiar with a distorted spine? A strict methodology involving four progression factors is indispensable for the brain to become truly familiar with the pelvis, the various diaphragms, or the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine.

In the Specific Proprioception and Awareness course, you will learn how to apply the very important and often neglected aspect of Awareness in your daily practice.

It’s the fine tuning of any rehab or development program.

I can’t overstate the importance of learning Specific Proprioception and Awareness for any physical therapist or trainer. It is the fine tuning that completes and polishes any rehabilitation or physical development program. Want to learn more? Drop me an email.

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