Top 5 Fridays! 5 Aspects of Learning | Modern Manual Therapy Blog

Top 5 Fridays! 5 Aspects of Learning

When you are working someone and teaching movement re-education, Pain Science, general ther ex, or strengthening and conditioning, you should know several different aspects of learning.

Here's a caveat, I have no formal degree in education, but have read a decent amount on the how's and why's of learning. Here are 5 Aspects of Learning

1) Repetition is important

  • repetition is important, get it?
  • as a patient, they can never hear important points enough
    • they may have not been paying attention
    • they may be overwhelmed
    • they may need a different way of explaining the same concept
    • this is why metaphors and stories are so important
  • as a clinician, you're better off being repetitive than not being comprehensive

2) Learning is visual
  • for the visual learners, it is important to get their mirror neurons firing by providing a pristine example of the movement strategy you are teaching
  • see Chris Johnson's youtube channel for example of literally hours and hours of practice on motor control
  • how can a visual learner replicate the proper movement if you cannot do it yourself?
    • if you cannot, find a video of pristine movement, watch it together, go over the important correctives
    • also be honest why you're showing the video, patients can appreciate you being honest about imperfections

3) Learning is auditory
  • you need to be able to talk up and down on the fly in terms of your patient's education and comprehension levels
  • start with being too simple and then you can jazz it up with a little anatomy and how the nervous system works
  • in my 16+ years experience, even other medical professionals appreciate simple examples, methaphors and stories rather than assuming they know exactly what you are talking about in your own lingo
  • use cues like "Give me the biggest possible arc with a reach" - when cueing bird dogs for example
    • try this yourself and try and draw a bigger arc, your body gives a little length to the movement and recruits muscles better

4) Learning is tactile
  • PNF works well because of the gentle touch and tactile plus auditory cues to facilitate movement
  • "meet my resistance"
  • "push into my hand"
  • "go where my hand is taking you"
  • for an inhibited movement, like scapula depression, try light resistance, then as they meet it, lightly grade your resistance higher to slowly facilitate more fibers
    • you'd be surprised at what tested as a 3/5 now tests as a 5/5 just from some proper graded resistance
    • after they have the motion down and can consistently resist at 5/5, use a little RockTape to keep the facilitation going

5) Learning is repetitive
  • yes, I went there
  • it's no longer surprising to me that people ask me the same questions over and over, even when I just did a Q&A on my blog the day before, or even the same day
  • so yes, read all the above points over again
  • think about how being repetitive in your motor control/corrective exercise instructions can affect someone's mirror neurons, and why your performance should be pristine
  • think about different ways to word and/or explain the same point until the patient has an "a ha" moment
  • explore different methods of tactile cuing for movement, agonist reversals, hold relax, resistance through the motion all work great to facilitate movement, repeat until the patient can perform on their own
Keeping it Eclectic...


  1. Repetition is the key to any successful outcome. In regards to the auditory learning enhancement, I wrote a post last week that focuses on getting our ideas and messages as practitioners to stick for the long term. It would fit nicely in your bullets!

  2. I've been meaning to share that one, perhaps as a guest post soon. I definitely already put it in The OMPT Daily. Thanks Doc.