***Warning, this is some super nerdy human movement stuff. I tried to make it as easy to read as possible.***

Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS) is based upon the scientific principles of developmental kinesiology i.e. the neurophysiological aspects of the maturing locomotor system. (Yeah, it’s a mouthful). In layman’s terms, it’s THE approach to physical rehabilitation that emulates the positions babies utilize in the first year of life to develop movement patterns that will serve them throughout their lifetime. These patterns are ingrained in our brains – you don’t teach a baby how to crawl. The goal is to utilize these positions and patterns to restore function to a dysfunctional movement pattern that may be limiting performance and causing pain.

I have taken a number of these courses – A & B (out of D) and a few skills courses – but not until recently have things begun to click. I understood the principles and reasoning behind this scientific approach, which I argue to be the most “functional” form of movement, but applying the knowledge in the clinical setting is a beast of its own.

This course was Golf specific with lots of Golf related research and topics of discussion. However, the exercise interventions presented tended to be more rotation oriented, which could be applied to any rotational sport e.g. lacrosse, baseball, tennis.

There are so many great things to share in regard to DNS, so it was very difficult to narrow down my top 5 take-homes, but here they are:

1. Intraabdominal pressure (IAP) is the prerequisite to all movement

The ability to create IAP to activate the deep spinal stabilizing system – the true “core” – is important because it critically influences quality of stabilization. What constitutes IAP and warrants it as a crucial function to establishing the “core” is depicted below, but is a topic for another conversation. Poor IAP disallows proper shoulder and hip stabilization, and its effects can be identified down the chain (i.e. elbow, wrist; knee, ankle). Using the upper extremity as the example and a lack thereof a better analogy, trying to stabilize a shoulder for efficient arm function without sufficient activation of the “core” is like a tree without roots attempting to stay upright – it just doesn’t happen.


“A” is good, “B” is bad. Note the excessive back muscle development in figure B.

What does this mean in regard to a sport like golf that seeks a large range of rotation for the swing? If you address the ball with a poor rounded or arched posture, you have eliminated your ability to create sufficient IAP, significantly limiting the amount of rotation you can safely generate. Trying to force that big swing? It will come at a cost of overloading particular muscles and joint, commonly the low back, elbows and knees, increasing your risk for pain and injury.

2. Postural function vs. reaching/grasping (anatomical) function

We are taught in anatomy that the bicep, when shortened, flexes the elbow and shoulder – an open chain movement. However, its postural function is to guide the shoulder joint forward over a fixed elbow/forearm support in coordination with the triceps (think army crawl). Developmental kinesiology tells us that postural function is a prerequisite to reaching function. Much like the handle of a slingshot needs to be stabilized in order to pull back and load the sling, we as babies needed to be able to stabilize our bodies before we were able to reach and grasp.


What does this mean in regard to sport and training? In order to improve the mobility and function of your shoulder(s), you must train it how to properly stabilize in its postural, closed-chain function. A chronically tight shoulder is the brain’s compensation for stabilizing an unstable joint. Simply yanking and stretching the crap out of that shoulder for “mobility” does not translate to improving your ability to control that new range of motion in function. You’ve likely just taken away your body’s attempt to stabilize, thus increasing your risk for injury…or, it will just go back to being tight again!

The same goes for the hip. It’s much more effective to focus training hip mobility as a stance leg, in its postural function (i.e. single-leg deadlift), than as the swing leg (i.e. leg whips).

 3. We move in global patterns

To paraphrase a mentor of mine, Dr. Robert Lardner, it would be illogical to expect to be able to play well with a band in concert when you’ve only practiced as a soloist. In relation to the human body, this is bodybuilding principles – training muscles in isolation. Don’t get me wrong here, bodybuilding principles are entirely kosher if your goal is to get chiseled like the statue of a Greek god. However, the majority of the general population follows these principles with goal of being healthy and in-shape. Curls are truly for the girls (or guys), not function. Simply working your bicep muscle does not translate to any postural or reaching/grasping function, only aesthetics.


We move in two distinct patterns: ipsilateral (same side) & contralateral (opposite arm/leg). The golf swing is an ipsilateral pattern whereas running is contralateral.

If you like the standard gym exercises and are interested in getting more out of them in a “functional” approach, check out this video: Top 5 Conventional Exercise Alternatives

 4. Train the pattern and it will integrate into the big picture

If you properly train the pattern ­­– the chain(s) of muscles working together in concert – it will automatically integrate into your specific movement patterns for sport. When you upload good software into the brain, it will use that program to control the hardware (body).

 5. Gnostic function is often overlooked

Your gnostic function is essentially your level of sensibility: susceptibility of feeling; ability to feel or perceive. Assessing someone’s gnostic function helps you determine one’s level of body awareness. The greater your gnostic function, the greater your ability to improve and maximize performance. Thus, this is a great way to measure potential; the individual’s current skill level at their sport would not.

The immediate takeaway I got from this is that you should never train with headphones; this distraction distorts your gnostic function and ability to receive and translate necessary input required for learning.

What does this all mean to you?

What are your goals? If your goal is to get swole, then just hop on the machine that highlights in red the muscle you want to swell. If your goal is to improve performance (e.g. knock the white off the golf ball) while reducing risk for injury, then you should train or “strengthen” movements, not muscles, because the brain speaks in terms of movements, not individual muscles.

If you have back pain, I can guarantee you it’s not because your back muscles are weak and need of “strengthening.” In actuality, the back muscles are likely being overemphasized – inducing excessive load to the spine. There is lack of co-activation or balance of the core.

The DNS approach addresses WHY you may be suffering from physical limitations causing pain, the inability to get the club face square, or lack of power; ultimately, impacting your performance. If you would like more information about DNS check out, http://www.rehabps.com.

At OmniKinetics we are principled in training movements and patterns, not muscles. We believe this is the most effective, natural and truly functional way to optimize the body for human performance in any sport, not just golf.

Book your appointment today to utilize DNS, helping you go from pain to performance.

Author: Dr. RJ Burr

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