Homework do’s and don’ts – a guide for neurologically based rehab

When we injure ourselves, the brain adapts to the injury, and creates new movement patterns to avoid the pain (compensations). Once these patterns have become ingrained, it takes some effort to change them.

In clinic I can help you identify what’s going on, how to repattern the dysfunctional movement patterns, to create, or reestablish the functional ones you need to regain your RoM / be pain free etc. It’s a collaborative process.
Sometimes you get immediate relief in session, sometimes it takes longer. In both cases neurological change is required, and this can often take time.

This is (mostly) why homework is assigned. Mostly, because traditionally homework is set to reinforce the corrections made during the treatment session. 🤓
Sometimes however, the release can be incomplete (not enough time, client goes limbic, other things take priority etc) and consequently the old pattern isn’t completely cleared. 🤔

Given how important homework is therefore to full recovery, here are a few tips I wanted to share 🤩

👉🏻 Always be in a ‘safe’ mental state when you are going to do your homework. 🧠💪🏻
There is no point rushing, thinking about something else whilst doing it, or being distracted. Your brain, or more specifically the motor control centre in your brain needs to be open to new learning, 👍🏻 it can’t do that if you’re pondering the meaning of life, or what’s for dinner. 🤦🏻‍♂️

👉🏻 Be kind to yourself. Don’t go too hard. Listen to your body, you need to avoid initiating the fight or flight response 🤓👍🏻

👉🏻 Use the videos. 🎥
Each and every homework assigned will, where possible, be videoed so that you know exactly what to do to help with your specific issues. It’s individual to you. If you are unsure about any aspect of your homework, just ask.

👉🏻 Review the homework videos. 📺
Thinking you know what you’re doing, and knowing you know what you are doing, are two very different things. Review the homework videos, to make sure you’re still on track. 👍🏻

👉🏻 Follow the instructions given precisely and with focus.💡
Each homework assigned will have either two or three elements linked together with precise timings which must not be exceeded.
⏰ Timings are linked to the optimal ability for new learning in the motor control centre.
🏋🏻‍♂️ Reps are linked to your neural limit. 👍🏻 Exceeding either will severely limit the effectiveness of the homework. 🤦🏻‍♂️

You may have been given several pieces of homework to do. Each requires focus, and to be done in the order prescribed. THe order is linked to their hierarchy of importance in the body, doing them in a different order will lessen or nullify their effectiveness.

Don’t be tempted to overlap your homework with other homework or other activities. Your homework is based around release of over active structures, and activation of under active structures in the same pattern. The homework sends the message ‘You don’t need to use this, because its okay to use this’ to the brain. Overlapping homework’s confuses the messages to the brain, making it less likely for the corrected movement pattern to stick.

👉🏻 Never look at yourself in a mirror or reflection whilst doing your homework. If you need to know what your movements etc look like, use your phone to record yourself, watch it back and cue yourself appropriately until you’re happy with the movement. 😊👍🏻

👉🏻 Unless explicitly requested not to, your eyes should both be open at all times, with a neutral forward gaze 🤓

👉🏻 If you’re working with scar tissue, know that scars can hold a lot of active trauma neurologically. You need to go slowly, be aware of your tissues, be aware of the feel, be aware of how you’re feeling during the release – do emotions tend to come to the surface? 😭😡😱
This is all helpful feedback at the start of the next session 👍🏻
You also need to be accurate, in both position and vector of release. 👍🏻

👉🏻 Get me to review your homework between sessions. This is open to everyone, and costs you nothing. Record yourself doing the homework (talking me through what you’re doing (particularly important where sensitive areas are involved)) and send it across to me to review. WhatsApp works great, but email or WeTransfer are also fine.
There’s nothing worse than doing your homework wrong for a week (or longer), when a few simple pointers could have put you right in the early days 👍🏻

👉🏻 Don’t be tempted to stretch or release anything else during your homework period. Sometimes the thing which hurts the most is the very thing which needs to be activated, not released. 👍🏻

If you’ve been assigned homework on one side (unilaterally) don’t be tempted to do it on the other side as well. The purpose of the homework is to reestablish a neural pathway to a specific part of the body and its movement pattern. If you have a single sided problem, you’ll likely need single sided homework.

👨🏻‍🎓 If you are working with your eye muscles – always remember doing so can cause disorientation. Always complete the homework in a safe environment. Transition from your homework position to the next carefully. Do not drive, operate machinery, sign legal documentation or do anything which requires concentration for at least 15 minutes afterwards so that you have time to assess whether you are able to do so safely 👍🏻

👉🏻 Something not feel right? Let me know. I’m available on the phone 📱 call or message me 📞📟 I might not get back to you straight away, but aim to do so within 24 hours. 👍🏻

👉🏻 It’s important when you’re doing your homework, that you don’t over do things, doing so could overload your nervous system, the homework patterns won’t stick, and worse of all, you may start to experience a sudden onset of pain.
If you’re in any doubt as to how much of an exercise you should be doing, what type of exercise is okay to do, and what should probably be avoided for a while, please ask 😊👍🏻

👉🏻 Aches and pains 💥 when doing your homework, or afterwards during the day, particularly where you didn’t have them before?
Sometimes this is part of the normal healing process. If you have muscles (and other structures) which haven’t been used correctly for some time, it can be a bit sore when they start to kick in again. That’s normal as they regain proper function. But if you are at all concerned, let me know, and we can review your homework etc 👍🏻

👉🏻 Breathe. Always remember to breathe (correctly) whilst doing your homework 👍🏻

Sometimes dysfunctions are like an onion, we have to peel back a layers to see what the next dysfunction is.
Your homework is part of a strategy to help you regain your optimal self. It takes time, and hard work both in the treatment room and more importantly when you’re in the big wide world.
You can do it 🕺🏻

Not sure about something? Got a query? Just ask. I’m here to help, and as the old adage goes, there are no daft questions.

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