The Three Letters That’ll Change Your Mind and Your Body
DNS, or Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization, is creating a serious buzz among top physical trainers right now--and it’s not just because it sounds smart. Learn how DNS will change how you move, play, and live.
Decoding the alphabet soup
Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization...what a mouthful! That’s why most of us just call it “DNS.”
Let’s start by defining each term and explaining how DNS can improve your daily life. By the end of this article--our first in a series DNS 101 posts--you’ll be applying this tough-to-say but easy-to-learn concept to your next workout.
First thing’s first: Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization 101
DNS describes the range of core stability needed for balance, daily movement, and sports. It’s a fairly new theory, developed by a team of professors and physical therapists after observing babies’ movement patterns. After watching how infants roll, crawl, reach, and eventually maintain strong postures, the pros realized something critical: Adults, bogged down by a lifetime of poor posture and bad habits, lose our inborn sense of healthy movement we all start life with. This leaves adults with injuries, fatigue, decreased balance, and a poor range of movement. Other times, it’s simply age’s natural progression that causes us to lose touch with our own bodies.
Is DNS an exercise plan?
Not exactly. It was actually developed as a physical therapy theory, designed to incorporate:
Your central nervous system (CNS)
Your skeletal system
However, many of the major concepts (like balance, core strength, and joint wellness) are applicable to a wide range of exercises. With the WAV, for example, you train your CNS using senses like vision and hearing, as well as your core and the rest of your body.
It might be helpful to think of DNS exercises as wellness strategies, applicable to ways you already move (and by move, we mean things like marathons to simply shifting in your desk chair). DNS is less about actual hardcore physical training (no burpees for us!); instead, it’s focused on whole-body functionality.
On the move: Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization
Well, “dynamic” simply means something’s constantly changing or progressing. So tied together, “dynamic neuromuscular training” is an integrative health strategy. DNS promotes active synergy between multiple body systems, facilitating healthier movement patterns no matter your age or fitness level.
Being SENSEsational: Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization
“Neuromuscular” simply means the way your nervous system and muscles work together.
To perform an action, nerve cells--or neurons--throughout your entire body communicate near-instant messages to your brain, helping you do whatever it is you need to do. With the WAV, for example, you engage your neuromuscular system by encouraging use (or non-use) of your vision, hearing, and muscles as you’re working out. That’s neuromuscular training in action!
Steady as you go: Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization
Think about it: If you like running, you know it’s more than just faster walking. When you understand DNS, you become more aware of how your body’s moving forward as it responds to your rapid weight shifts as your feet navigate tricky terrain. You stabilize your core to keep yourself in a steady, upright posture; you make subtle shifts in rotation as you run around corners, cross streets, and weave through fellow runners. This is why balance and stability exercises for athletes are so crucial to professional trainers and coaches.
None of these movements are immediately obvious, so it’s easy to overlook the work your sensory systems are doing to propel you forward while making sure you don’t fall over. That’s the"stabilization" portion of DNS--you remain steady in motion while smoothly coordinating your movements.
Tying it all together
We know DNS is a lot to unpack. By now, you should understand that DNS is what your body needs so it can move with balance, good posture, and coordination. As you learn more, you’ll become more mindful of your body’s use of DNS as you move through your day and activate your senses. Since DNS is the backbone of mindful motion, we’ll continue sharing DNS-inspired moves, advanced balance exercises, training suggestions, and theory explanations.
Excited to learn more about DNS before waiting for our next post? No worries--we’re always here to answer your questions.
As much as we embrace DNS, we didn’t invent it! Here are a few extra resources for those with a mind for movement.
- On the “rehab” origins of DNS: http://www.jandaapproach.com/the-janda-approach/janda-treatment/
- A nice academic paper explaining DNS and theory: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3578435/
- Renowned physical therapist and orthopaedist, Andrew Morcos, and his explanation of DNS, complete with diagrams: http://www.tdathletesedge.com/blog/2016/4/3/dynamic-neuromuscular-stabilization-and-its-integration-to-sports
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