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The technique mash-up: DNS + Body Tempering + Pliability

Who doesn’t love learning new skills while building on experience?

Lifelong learning is not only healthy but it adds spice to life. The brain is an amazing structure capable of things we’ve scarcely begun to discover. Thankfully for those of us who are not highly-trained neuroscientists, there are some time-tested truths that we all have come to understand that we can use as a base for new ideas.

I like to utilize this strategy in life as I approach new subjects that challenge something I already understand. Can this new information enhance what I already know? Or does this new information challenge what I previously believed enough to completely replace my old approach? 

For me, it’s about allowing results to guide the way. My line of work focuses primarily on the reduction of pain and on improving performance, two metrics that are relatively easily tracked. And, over the years, I’ve experienced many shifts in thinking that have informed my practice.

Let’s talk, for example, about body tempering. There was a time in my professional life when I would have never asked my clients or athletes to go above a 5 or 6 out of 10 on their perceived pain scale when doing soft-tissue work. Then I was introduced to the Geisha Tempering Roller from Kabuki, and my eyes were opened ever-so-slightly to a new approach and I could see more areas of application for some really legitimate tissue compression. 

I was already on board with some of the kettlebell smashing and compression band work, but for some reason this roller opened a new door for me. I quickly invested in more tempering tools and started to put some stuff into the blender that is my brain. 

Here is what came out:

Body tempering + dynamic neuromuscular stabilization (DNS)-based contract/relax with or without compression = Kabuki BOOMSTICK baby! Find the nasty little trigger point that you want to destroy and the joint complex you think it is messing with. Learn some badass DNS-based exercise positions so that you can use reciprocal inhibition to your advantage.

The concept of reciprocal inhibition is one that allows the central nervous system to organize muscle tension on either side of the joint…think push/pull

     If the brain really wants to push, it will need to alter the function of the pulling muscles to allow the push function to dominate the movement. Allowing this natural organization to take place will allow for a greater adaptation window in the way that the body holds tension at rest or, more importantly, how it chooses to balance muscle tension during the next push movement. Recall that in this environment, the brain is the target tissue.  

Here’s a series of activities that capture the spirit of this concept in the hip:

  • DNS – Basic three month creep posture with hip flexion on the side of tempering. (image:POSMODEV)

  • Tempering – Slowly (over the course of 2-3 minutes) let the weight of the tool and your added pressure establish the 8/10 pain threshold into the trigger point. At that time, remove the tool and get the person to fire their posterior chain by adding pressure through the heel of that same side. (You can change the angle of hip flexion as needed.)
  • Contract/relax –  Re-establish the 8/10 pressure on the tool and fire the posterior chain through the heel as fast and strong as possible. Try to establish full relaxation between contractions and allow the tool to sink back into the tissue. (Be sure to hold on tight to the tool and be gentle when sinking into the tissue.) I like to go for 2-4 sets of 6-8 reps.
  • DNS active recovery –  During the moments between sets, add 15 seconds of isometric hold to the antagonist chain by gently driving the inside of the knee into the mat. 

It all sounds a bit complicated and requires some previous knowledge of key postures that allow for greater motor control, but it can all be learned. 

Some might argue that adding this much to a workout or training routine is overkill, but I’m going to go back to the “new skills, new learning” idea that I mentioned at the outset. Open your mind, and you might just get the big payoff. Anytime we can drive greater input to the desired structures and help the individual realize the local contraction we are looking for, I think it is worth looking into. 

The results of body tempering alone speak for themselves. It has a multitude of applications and really smart people are experimenting with it. The OG, Donnie Thompson, is teaching courses on his methods and he is a beast in this space. What is actually changing under the tempering tool? No clue here, and I’m a chiropractor by trade. Sometimes that is the thing when you open your eyes wider to something new. You are not quite sure what you are seeing, but you know something is different. I have been using some version of DNS for over 10 years. I have known about contract/relax concepts since I was in high school and stretching after lifting. I’m a believer.

The catalyst for me in mashing it all up was reading Tom Brady’s TB12 book and his discussion of the concept of “pliability.” While it may be a bit of a fringe concept, it made sense to me to both contract and relax into heavy pressure. I had been doing a similar version with tool-assisted soft-tissue work against resistance and into full ranges of motion but much lighter and more global. This heavy local pressure with larger global contractions seems to make some logical, if not totally scientific, sense in the context of training. 

Adding compression into the routine has had mixed results and seems to work best under static compression. My personal favorite is some forearm work with the same three month creep strategy as mentioned before, under compression of a “floss band.” The concept of the floss band is to add additional compression to the joint and soft tissues. It temporarily restricts blood flow to the area. What exactly this does to the tissue is still under scrutiny. Yes, it is intense, but the results are a thing of beauty. 

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