At CTS we often hear, "my doctor sent me here and told me you would do biofeedback, you do that here, right?" Good news, we do! However, biofeedback can mean a lot of different things so keep reading to understand what biofeedback is as well as a few of the types that are used at CTS.
Biofeedback is simply the use of some outside source of information to improve our body's performance.
The simplest example would be a mirror (which we use at CTS too!). If you are doing a lunge, you can look in the mirror to get visual information on how it is going, which you may then use to correct your movement pattern. In this situation you were unaware of some aspect of performance you could optimize until an external device gave you feedback.
Mirrors are not very fancy or high tech though, are they? If you want to get fancy with technology, consider one biofeedback device that has become commonplace now due to technological advancements: the smart watch. For example you can use the heart rate monitor on your smart watch as a biofeedback device.
Try it now: If you have one, check your heart rate on your smart watch. Take a deep breath over the course of four seconds. Pause. Now gently blow out over 7 seconds. Repeat two more times. Did your heart rate change? You just did biofeedback!
As you can see biofeedback can mean a variety of things. Two popular forms of biofeedback used at CTS are electromyography (EMG) and real-time ultrasound (RTUS).
EMG allows you to see a visual representation of muscle activity.
Imagine you could see a particular muscle's activity level as a line on a graph. If the line goes up that means more muscle activity, down means less. All of sudden you have another way of sensing and controlling areas of your body you may have had a poor awareness of before (pelvic floor muscles sound like prime candidates).
RTUS on the other hand actually lets you see the structures of the body and how they are moving.
For example, did you know there are four layers of stomach muscles? If I were to ask you to contract the deepest layer before the others, could you do it? And if you can, how do you know you were successful? RTUS can help with that. All of sudden, you can see what every single layer of stomach muscle is doing and get immediate visual feedback as you train them.
There are other types of biofeedback used at our clinic too, but EMG and RTUS are just two of the most popular and most fun. Biofeedback can be a powerful training option that leads to better outcomes, which is our main goal at CTS. So if you are feeling curious about biofeedback, ask your therapist next time you are at CTS if biofeedback might be a helpful tool on your journey to a more optimized you!