What the Heck is SensoriMotor Repatterning?
Probably the most efficient therapy available to optimize how the brain controls movement and pain.
SMR can fix chronic pain and dysfunctional movement patterns for which people have been seeking a cure for years in a few sessions.
Initial injury = damaged sensory receptors = faulty sensory input = inhibitory safety response from brain = compromised stability = decreased range of motion = compromised movement causes the brain to output pain signals = struggling to find stability brain starts to create dysfunctional movement patterns = new pain manifests further from original injury site = more dysfunctional movement patterns created, etc.
For example, when a bike comes hurling towards you, and you realize that impact is imminent, you will likely lock down your muscles and brace yourself. You know the direction of the force of the collision; thus your body knows how to negate that force to minimize the injury. These are all decisions made in split seconds that combine an array of sensory information with decisions made at a high level within your brain. Sensory information includes sight, where you are in space (proprioception), and previous knowledge of force (learned movement patterns).
However, when your unconscious brain receives faulty sensory information (usually due to injury), it does not have the same sophisticated mechanisms to distinguish the threat level or specific response. Therefore, the brain’s default safety mechanism when it receives faulty sensory information is to inhibit muscles.
Suppose you have faulty proprioceptors in your ankle that send incorrect information to your brain about where your ankle is in space. In that case, the brain will respond by temporarily going into its default safety mechanism of inhibition. It does so because, in this default inhibited (weak) state, you are much less likely to rip muscles or ligaments off their boney attachments. It also decreases the likeliness of broken bones due to a transfer of force rippling from one joint to the next.
The downside of this safety mechanism is that you are also in a compromised state where your strength is decreased, and you are less stable. When the nervous system feels unstable, it will decrease the range of motion in your joints to regain stability (think tight muscles).
This inhibitory state is fleeting. Once the nervous system feels safe, it will send signals out for muscles to return to normal function. However, if your nervous system is constantly getting faulty information, it will continue to send out inhibitory signals. Pain can occur due to this compromised state, and the nervous system creates compensation patterns to counteract the pain. Some of these patterns are poorly made choices by the brain that are ultimately identified in SMR as dysfunctional movement patterns.
To truly correct pain and dysfunction, we have to find the original sensory dysfunction/injury site that started the chain reaction of events. There are many types of receptors, including light touch, deep touch, hot, cold, vibration, point-specific pain, broad pain, stretch, etc. It is the older (limbic brain) that controls safety responses. This part of the brain focuses on survival and will build safety mechanisms based on what it learned from threatening injury events.
The more evolved part of our brain (the neocortex) wants to be as functional as possible; therefore, once it is aware of dysfunctional receptors, or faulty safety mechanisms, it corrects the limbic responses and sensory inputs. The fix takes seconds and is permanent (Neuroplasticity). It doesn’t need reinforcing with remedial exercises. The tricky part is not the fixing but knowing what to fix, and that is where SensoriMotor Repatterning (SMR) excels.