There is a clear link between reduced proprioceptive input, altered slow motor unit recruitment and the development of chronic pain states. A good understanding of the control processes used to maintain stability in functional movements is essential for clinicians who attempt to treat or manage musculoskeletal pain problems.
Recent research suggests that the nervous system controls muscles by activating flexible combinations of muscle synergies to produce a wide repertoire of movements. Muscle synergies are like building blocks, defining characteristic patterns of activation across multiple muscles that may be unique to each individual, but perform similar functions. Understanding the complex interplay between neural circuits and biomechanics that give rise to muscle synergies will be crucial to advancing our understanding of neural control mechanisms for movement.
Restoration of function related to sensorimotor integration requires that neurophysiological and neuromuscular mechanisms are working, and beyond that requires reeducation of the central processes of perception and selection which drive postural control.
While clinicians should initially seek to identify a speciﬁc pathoanatomic source of the patient’s symptoms, in particular redﬂag conditions, they should also consider impairments of other systems or regions that may be directly or indirectly associated with the patient’s complaints. There is some research to suggest that such an expanded approach can produce positive results.
Breathing affects motor control and postural stability and plays several roles in physiological and psychological regulation. Breathing can influence homeostatic functions in other system including the autonomic nervous system, the circulatory system, chemical regulation and metabolism.
Perhaps one of the strongest influences on our posture and one that is directly wired to the motor control and postural stability systems, is the visual and vestibular systems. These primal reflexes account for posture, balance, keeping you and your visual field horizontal, as well as controlling your resting muscular tension. The habitual patterning of your system can shift your perception of where you are in space and hence your default posturing and your resting muscle tone. This is considered your Spatial Orientation, and needs to be considered and integrated into your physical therapy.