This is part 2 of a 3 part series on DNS…for Part 1, click here.
Part I covered the history and background assumptions of DNS, and went into reasons for its use.
Here in Part II I’ll cover some of the process that I learned at the seminar with reflections on similar movement patterns in other disciplines.
Part III will be a “philosophical” discussion about movement in the light of DNS and will include some observations of my own around assumptions we make regarding movement in our culture.
So let’s get going!
As discussed in Part I, the main observations to make at the beginning of DNS are whether or not the joint is functional – that is, centrated and capable of full ROM. If not, why not?
Karel Lewit notes that it’s important to remove any restricting lesions before beginning any other work. A “lesion” here means any neuromuscular block to normal movement. Lewit often refers to these as “scars” and has a definite method for releasing scars.
Once you’ve removed lesions or blockages to restoring mobility or centration, get to work.
But first thing’s first. Numero uno – check your breath!
This resonated with me very deeply since I’d just finished a Wilderness First Responder course a week prior to the DNS seminar. In first-responder scenarios after considering basic scene safety and triage, the first things to assess in a patient are the “A, B, C’s.” That is – What is the quality of their Airway, Breathing, and Circulation.
Life won’t continue long without any of those three. And life is certainly diminished when any of those are diminished. Consider the relative quality of life of any person suffering from airway, breathing, or circulatory disorders.
Adequate and efficient intake and distribution of oxygen is primary to the function of the body.
Check your breathing by doing the following – place your hands on the fleshy bits between your hip bones and your lower ribs, with your thumbs toward the back by your kidneys, and your fingers pointing forward toward your navel. If you can’t get into this position without restricting your shoulder movement (hunching forward) DO SOME SHOULDER/THORACIC MOBILIZATION FIRST (here, or here).
Now that you’ve got a grip on yourself, push out against your hands.
How? By using your diaphragm, of course. When your diaphragm pushes down, it presses against your guts, which have to squeeze out somewhere. When they push down and out, they should automatically trigger a “myotatic stretch reflex” in the abdominal and pelvic floor (and gluteal/deep hip) musculature.
This move is different from just pushing your belly out…or “belly breathing” as they like to call it. Instead, think in terms of breathing circularly. The entire hoop around your midsection should expand and slightly contract as you breathe.
Practice keeping that tension while breathing.
One key here is to RELAX. Let your shoulders relax, let your arms relax, let your brain relax. Relax all over. If your shoulders are hiking up when you breathe (or even if your clavicles or sternum are moving upward toward your head) you’re using accessory muscles to breathe rather than the diaphragm. RELAX.
Now put your hands up on your lower ribs, making sure they’re expanding and contracting laterally (out to the sides) with each breath. When you’ve got that (while keeping your core coactivation) move up to the upper ribs.
Once you’ve got your breathing functioning well again, it’s time to integrate that into some movement.
The 13:00 mark on this video shows clear application of the method in a supine sagittal stabilization (SSS) phase. Once you’ve got yourself stabilized, start adding slow limb movement.
If you get the limb movement down well, move on to transitioning from SSS through developmental patterns, starting with the ipsalateral/homolateral support pattern. Again, watch the video for the different patterns.
Remember throughout your exploration to maintain abdominal coactivation, “circular” breathing, RELAXATION, and focused awareness.