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The Nervous System is King in Rehab

If you’ve spent some time in rehab with me, I’ve likely spent some time talking about the critical role the nervous system plays in recovery from pain and injury. Simply put, it’s the most influential system in how the body responds to exercise rehabilitation.

🤯The nervous system is constantly seeking proof of protection and safety. It is making predictions and estimations of the body’s capacity to tolerate forces and loads, and adapting accordingly. The brain sits in a dark cave, relying on sensory input from a range of systems to make these estimations. The more data provided via sensory mechanisms, the more accurate the estimation will be.

🚨 Following injury, the nervous system supports the injured area with additional top-down protection mechanisms. You’ll likely notice these as local muscle guarding and stiffness, increased pain sensitivity to movement, and increased tenderness to touch in the region.

💪🏼One of the primary goals of rehabilitation is to expose your systems to progressively increased challenges. This not only to allows time for the biological healing to occur, but provides the nervous system with sensory data necessary to develop more accurate estimations of safety, reducing the need for those top-down protections.

🎯 Effective rehabilitation shows you what you can do. It tests and re-tests the activities that are meaningful to provide assurance in the capacity of your systems. This credible sense of safety may be expressed as reduced pain and muscle guarding, greater stretch tolerance in muscles and joints - all allowing you to move more freely with greater confidence on the path back to sport and beyond.

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