Ultrasound imaging is useful as a biofeedback tool for ‘rewiring the brain’ or re-educating the proper timing of muscle contraction during both individual exercises and meaningful task training.
It is particularly useful for the muscles of the abdominal wall and the pelvic floor. Restoring the optimal sequence and pattern of activation of the core muscles (i.e. which muscle contracts when and in coordination with which other muscles) is called core training. It is essential that one learns how to properly activate the core muscles prior to doing any strengthening exercises as you cannot strengthen a muscle that your brain does not know how to use!
Core training will teach you how to correct the pattern of activation such that the right muscles work at the right time. Following core training, you can then progress to more traditional exercises for core strengthening (gym ball work, bosu, planks, arm loading tasks etc).
Research has shown that in as little as 30 proper repetitions, your brain begins to remember the optimal way to use these muscles. Without this rehabilitation training, your brain often continues to use the old faulty patterns that got you into trouble in the first place, thereby perpetuating pain and dysfunction.
Remember – core training comes before strengthening. Learn the proper muscle activation pattern first and then reinforce the pattern with lots of repetitions. Ultrasound imaging can expedite this learning curve.
See ‘Core training vs. strengthening. What is the difference and why it matters‘ for more on this topic.