How to Restore the Natural Curve in Your Neck


Most of us take daily movement for granted. We roll out of bed in the morning, muddle through our morning routine and head off to work or school without giving a thought to how our bodies are performing. We may then spend the day sitting in front of a computer, standing at a cash register, driving a delivery truck or performing other occupational tasks that require minimal exertion, again taking it all for granted.

But over time, most people experience a decline in physical performance. Tasks that once seemed easy become a challenge, your energy levels drop, and fatigue and brain fog become the new normal. Markers for metabolic health begin to set off alarm bells as blood pressure, blood sugar and blood lipids escalate. Your joints become stiffer and you lose the pep in your step.

While most people accept physical decline as a natural part of aging, there are steps you can take to slow and reverse the process. Functional movement therapy helps you perform your day-to-day tasks with more energy, less wear and tear on your body, and fewer signs of metabolic disease.

What is Functional Movement Therapy?


Functional movement therapy engages the nervous system as a whole, not just individual motor units. The goal of functional therapy is not strengthening. It is to improve motor control and enhance movement, engaging muscles in coordinated patterns and co-contractions that improve and maintain dynamic stability in multiple planes of motion.

During a functional therapy session, movements are initiated from a stable base of support, engaging muscle chains rather than individual muscles. The patient or athlete focuses on a specific task relevant to the tasks or skills they perform on a daily basis.

Origins of Functional Movement Therapy

Nikolai Bernstein (1896-1966) was a Soviet Russian neurophysiologist know as the Godfather of motor control and motor learning. His extensive body of work described how the Central Nervous System (CNS) controls posture and movement. Bernstein’s theory was that human movement is controlled through adaptation to loads placed upon it, that large movements are made up of several smaller movements, and that any alterations of smaller movements will affect the larger movement as a whole.

Sadly, Berstein’s theories contradicted those of famous Russian physiologist I. P. Pavlov, and after receiving the Stalin award for science in 1948, he was soon forced to discontinue his work for several years. Bernstein’s ideas only became known to Western scientists in the 1960s, when his book, “The Co-ordination and Regulation of Movements,” was translated into English. His legacy as an innovator was recognized globally, and today research labs and departments at prestigious universities, including Harvard, bear his name. Hundreds of scientific papers about functional training are published every year, based on the laws of Bernstein’s motor control theory.

Functional Therapy Benefits


Functional therapy goes beyond muscle strength and control to improve overall health. Because all of the body’s systems are interdependent, improved motor control also affects breathing, cardiovascular health, the immune and limbic systems and emotional wellbeing.

Benefits of functional movement therapy include:

  • Improved motor control
  • Improved proprioception
  • Greater movement efficiency
  • Better distribution of force loads
  • Increased energy production
  • Improved microcirculation
  • Improved brain and CNS function
  • From muscle and fascia perspective and therefore reducing energy efficiency
  • Improved circulation to the brain
  • Better balance
  • Greater joint stability

Who Can Benefit From Functional Therapy?

Anyone can benefit from functional movement therapy because we all develop bad postural habits, motor deficiencies and muscle imbalances during the course of daily activities. Functional therapy can be used to support rehabilitation of orthopedic issues, neurologic disorders or sports injuries. Rather than target singe systems or structures within the body, functional therapy seeks to integrate all components of the neuro-musculoskeletal complex and force them to cooperate. As neurophysiologists like to say, “What fires together, wires together.”

What Methods Promote Functional Movement?


There are a number of disciplines that promote functional movement for healthy adults with no trauma or postural issues. Yoga, tai chi, kettle bell training and other disciplines support functional movement, so long as the participants are consistent and have the capacity to safely replicate complex movement patterns.

However, anyone with neurological or postural issues or seeking rehabilitation for an injury should seek the assistance of a physical therapist, chiropractor, athletic trainer or other movement practitioner.

Some functional therapy methods require special training and certification, including:

  • DNS (dynamic neuromuscular stabilization)
  • AIM (anatomy in motion)
  • PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation)
  • Spiral dynamics
  • SFMA (selective functional movement assessment)
  • Gait analysis and retraining

Functional Movement Therapy in NYC

Daily lifestyle habits and activities can gradually undermine your ability to move and function efficiently. Injuries, poor posture, unhealthy lifestyle choices and stress all affect the way your body performs. Over time, deficits in functional movement can cause your health to decline and accelerate the aging process.

If you are an athlete recovering from an injury, functional movement therapy can speed your return to sport with better performance and reduced risk of injury.

Contact NYDNRehab today, and restore functional movement for a better quality of life.


Bongaardt, Rob, and Onno G. Meijer. “Bernstein’s theory of movement behavior: Historical development and contemporary relevance.” Journal of motor behavior 32.1 (2000): 57-71.


In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)


Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)


Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

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