REDCORD
SUSPENSION

Regaining muscle control from head to toe

Gymnasts have been using suspension apparatus (gym rings, high bar, etc.) for centuries. Through practice and training, they learn how to move, balance and stabilize their own bodyweight into various suspended positions, such as a dip, plank or pike. Each exercise helps them gain precise muscle control for optimal movement health and performance.

Suspension exercises aren't new to PT. In fact, the physical therapy profession was born from gymnastics in the early 1800s. Physical therapists in Sweden were originally called "sjuk-gymnast" which means a person involved in gymnastics for those who are ill. The first physical therapist was Per Henrik Ling (the Father of Swedish Gymnastics) who founded the Royal Central Institute of Gymnastics in 1813 for rehabilitation and manipulation. [source: The Rise of Physical Therapy: A History in Footsteps]


At Activcore, we apply suspension exercises into a physical therapy and fitness setting. The system we use is called Redcord. It comes from Norway and consists of ropes, slings and bungee cords. Similar to floating in water, the Redcord suspension system creates a "zero-gravity" environment where people of all ages, all sizes, and all abilities can safely exercise with correct form and without pain. It's sort of like aquatic therapy on land.

Bungee-assisted hip stabilization (side plank)

Suspension exercises bring the "inner gymnast" out of you. Using bungee assistance, we teach you how to move, balance and stabilize your body through repeated joint motions, such as hip extension, knee flexion, or neck rotation. Each repetition builds strength and stability across entire chains of muscles (the myofascial chains) so that your whole body will feel more stable and less susceptible to injury when returning to physical activities.

Bungee-assisted neck stabilization


In particular, suspension exercises stimulate the joint stabilizers (deep neck flexors, rotator cuff, pelvic floor, deep hip rotators, diaphragm, etc.). These are your inner core muscles that support the joints to give you upright posture and functional mobility.

Joint stabilizers are supposed to always be ON through continuous muscle activation. But sometimes they turn OFF from physical trauma, like an injury, surgery or pregnancy. They can even shut down from prolonged sitting or a sedentary lifestyle. If deactivated for an extended period of time, they will become "weak links" in the myofascial chain that could lead to a vicious cycle of pain and movement dysfunction.

Bungee-assisted shoulder stabilization

We apply suspension exercises to gently wake up these dormant stabilizer muscles and reverse the pain cycle. Our approach is called NEURAC (NEURomuscular ACtivation). It's a method of rebooting your body's core stabilizing system. Essentially, by having you perform repeated joint motions in a "zero-gravity" environment, NEURAC tells your brain that it is safe to turn the stabilizers back on. It's like turning on a light switch to muscles that went dim from chronic pain and trauma.

Bungee-assisted pelvic stabilization (standing)


Redcord is the gold standard in suspension exercise. It gets faster results than ordinary physical therapy and strength training. The difference is felt at a neuromuscular level. When your mind and muscles are fully rebalanced, the effects are extraordinary.

Bungee-assisted thoracic stabilization

Redcord is a scientific breakthrough in physical therapy and fitness. Developed by Norwegian physiotherapists in the 1990's, it is now utilized by elite physical therapists and fitness trainers around the world as the ultimate system for deep muscle activation.

At Activcore, we are proud to be the leading provider of Redcord in the United States. Doing suspension based physical therapy makes us feel like we are getting back to the foundation of "Swedish medical gymnastics" that the profession was originally built on.

Bungee-assisted pelvic floor stabilization

Redcord is also a form of evidence-based practice. It has been extensively peer reviewed with 100+ research studies featured in industry approved publications such as the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, Journal of Human Kinetics, Journal of Biomechanics, and Journal of Dance Medicine & Science.

Scroll down to learn more about the science behind Redcord...

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The Problem

NEUROMUSCULAR DEACTIVATION

Many studies have shown that trauma (injury, concussion, pregnancy, surgery, cancer, etc.) can create physical imbalances throughout the body. It alters your brain’s capacity to switch on the right muscles, at the right time, and with the right amount of strength.

Known as neuromuscular deactivation, this process begins by shutting down the body's core stabilizing system. These are the smaller "local" muscles located near your joints. Their primary role is to stabilize the spine, pelvis, shoulders, hips, and other joints to allow for upright posture and functional mobility.

Examples of joint stabilizers include the:

- Deep neck flexors

- Deep shoulder muscles (rotator cuff)

- Deep rotators of the hip

- Pelvic floor muscles

- Multifidus

- Transverse abdominis

- Internal obliques

- Diaphragm (for breathing and stability)

When pain occurs, the connection to these local muscles gets disrupted or diminished. To compensate for the loss of joint stability, your brain will naturally send more signals to the larger "global" muscles which are closer to the surface of the body. Examples include the lats, pecs, biceps, triceps, quads and hams. They are more commonly known as "prime movers" since their primary role is to move the body. They turn on to do a specific task (e.g., walk, run, squat, push, pull, etc.) and then they're supposed to turn off, relax and recover. However, due to the underlying muscle deactivation, these global prime movers must stay on to also do the constant work of the local joint stabilizers.

Simply put, the outer muscles are now doing two jobs: moving and stabilizing. But they are not built to stay on constantly like the inner muscles. So it's only a matter of time for them to tighten up like a knot. A classic example of this is tight hamstrings compensating for a weak core. It is the body's innate way to protect an unstable spine (lower back) by stiffening up muscles further down the myofascial chain. In this case, the hamstrings.

So the leg muscles are tight because of an underlying motor control problem at the spine. If not properly addressed, this muscle imbalance will set in motion a cycle of pain that could lead to more serious injuries, like pulling or tearing your hamstring.

As the cycle goes around, pain will start to interfere with everyday life. Typically this is the breaking point when most people seek out help from a professional (chiropractor, physical therapist, acupuncturist, etc.). However, if the practitioner does not know how to find and fix your muscle imbalances as the true source of the problem, you might only get temporary relief. The symptoms could return and spread out to other areas in time.

Muscle deactivation impairs how you stabilize joint motions. It can make the body more susceptible to injuries. It can even disrupt how you regulate normal bodily processes, such as urinating (i.e., pelvic floor dysfunction), digesting food and breathing.

COMMON SOURCES OF MUSCLE DEACTIVATION

Sports and repetitive use
Broken bone
Injury and pain
Surgery
Surgery and medication
Sedentary
Sedentary lifestyle
Poor posture
Poor posture
Pregnancy and postpartum
Pregnancy and childbirth
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The Solution

NEUROMUSCULAR ACTIVATION

Simply stretching, massaging and strengthening the painful spot won't fix it. You have to find the underlying source of the problem which is often far away from the painful area. For instance, most shoulder problems stem from deactivated muscles around the pelvis, hips, spine and rib cage. That's why we always test and treat the whole myofascial chain, regardless of where you actually feel pain.

We apply suspension exercises to gently wake up these dormant stabilizer muscles and reverse the pain cycle. Our approach is called NEURAC (NEURomuscular ACtivation). It's a method of rebooting your body's core stabilizing system. Essentially, by having you perform repeated joint motions in a "zero-gravity" environment, NEURAC tells your brain that it is safe to turn the stabilizers back on. It's like turning on a light switch to muscles that went dim from chronic pain and trauma.

The Redcord suspension system gives your body the support it needs to engage the right muscles, at the right time, and with the right amount of strength. By offloading your outer muscles with bungee assistance, we can recruit the inner core muscles.

We can also adjust how much neuromuscular stimulation to apply during each exercise. Shaking the ropes stimulates the nerves. Gently vibrating the ropes calms the nerves. Finding a perfect balance of control versus instability is essential for best results. You should feel your muscles working (activating) but without any symptom aggravation.

Redcord is an ideal tool for delivering neuromuscular activation. While it's common to start feeling immediate changes with just a few exercises, it's important to understand that retraining muscles into a proper neuromuscular pattern takes repetition. After all, we are quite literally remapping connections between the brain and joint stabilizers.

Every exercise prescribed should be tailored to your specific needs. The practitioner may also use the Redcord suspension system to assist with the application of manual therapy techniques, such as joint mobilizations, stretching and myofascial release.

Assisted scapular mobilizations

Assisted thoracic stretching

Redcord helps people to a life in motion. Just like gymnastics, it naturally optimizes the way your mind and muscles communicate for better movement health and performance.

To learn even more about suspension based physical therapy, click here.

ACTIVCORE LOCATIONS

Pennsylvania

Newtown, PA

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