Monday, 28 November 2016
I was at a chiropractic talk the other week and a phenomenon known as the thixotropic effect was discussed. As the presenter explained its relevance to us, I began to realize that this effect is something that should be conveyed to our patients/clients so they know how to contribute to their injury recovery.
The thixotropic effect states that a material will remain in a gelatinous (soft and gooey) or fixed state unless loading (shear, compression, traction, etc.) is applied to the material. After such loading, the material will become more pliable. It is a concept of modulation! Now, the question is how do we make this modulation stick? In respect to the human body, what we need to do is modulate the source of control of the tissues that often give us problems (muscles, tendons and ligaments) – all of which are controlled by the nervous system. Therefore, we can only make lasting physical changes if we modulate the nervous system.
What this means is that if you have tight, sore muscles, either from overuse or from chronic poor posture, your muscles will remain tight until enough force is put through them – the thixotropic effect. This force can be provided by a manual therapist or through exercise (stretching, weights, etc.). The catch is, with only one of these strategies or the wrong method of these strategies, the perceived tension will reappear within 20 minutes to an hour. What we need is a strategy to neurologically modulate the areas of complaint in such a way as to help relieve the discomfort. A combination of the following is an excellent approach to training your nervous system to function more efficiently: 1) Electrostimulation to modulate the neural impulse affecting the targeted structures, 2) Lymphatic drainage to help remove metabolites prolonging the discomfort, 3) Isometric contractions to actively stimulate the tissue involved, 4) Acupuncture dry needling to target deep intramuscular regions, and 5) Dynamic movement to re-establish tolerance to functional patterns.
When it comes to learning how to use the nervous system in a new manner, the typical duration of rehabilitation is approximately three weeks after which point the brain has recognized and learned a new motor skill. This, however, doesn’t mean your rehabilitation is over. You’ll still need time to further ingrain this neurological conditioning so that it becomes second nature when that recruitment pattern is needed. If you are interested in learning more about this approach to your musculoskeletal complaints, I encourage you to book an appointment with me and I would be happy to discuss an individualized treatment plan with you.