Saturday, January 15, 2022

Do our muscles have memory?

If you live in Sydney, cycling is difficult to avoid. But as anyone new to the city can attest, hopping back on a saddle for the first time in years to weave through the narrow busy streets can be a daunting prospect.

Luckily, the old saying holds true: it really is like learning to ride a bike. Many people will have experienced the amazing and long-lasting memory for skills that is often known as "muscle memory".

Muscle memory exists in all kinds of different skills, from sewing, to dancing, to gaming. What is muscle memory? Does it involve changes in structure? What is happening in the brain?

What is Muscle Memory?

Even the simplest of everyday tasks involves a complex sequence of tensing and relaxing many different muscles. 

For most of these actions we have had repeated practice over our lifetime, therefore they can be performed faster, more smoothly and more accurately. 

Over time, with continual practice, actions as complicated as riding a bike, sewing, or even playing a musical instrument, can be performed almost automatically without thought.

We often talk about these skills as being held in muscle memory, but this term is really misleading. Although certain skills, like cycling or perfecting a golf swing, might require the strengthening of certain muscles, the processes that are important for learning and memory of new skills occur mainly in the brain, not in the muscles. 

Changes that occur in the brain during skill learning and memory alter the information that the brain sends out to the muscles, thereby changing the movements that are produced.

Skill learning and memory are clearly quite different from other forms of memory. It is thought that human memory is made up of multiple different systems that can all operate almost independently of each other (Squire, L. R. & Zola, S. M. Structure and function of declarative and non-declarative memory systems. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 93, 13515–13522 (1996).

We can have memories for facts, for example London is the capital of England, but we may not be able to remember when or where we originally learned this fact. Likewise, you might remember having a conversation with a friend, but not remember what the conversation was about. 

This is because "declarative memory"; the memory for facts, is though to be a different system, controlled by different brain mechanisms, than the one used for memory of life events or "episodic memory"

Memory for skills can be thought of as another distinct system. You may be able to ride a bike perfectly, but that doesn’t mean you could explain to someone the exact sequence of movements needed in order to cycle. You may not even remember when or where you learned this skill. 

Studies of patients with amnesia and other memory disorders have demonstrated how these different memory systems can operate separately. 

The findings demonstrate an important aspect of skill memory; that it can be stored without any conscious awareness, and the skilled actions can be performed almost automatically. (Milner, B. Les troubles de la mémoire accompagnant des lésions hippocampiques bilatérales. Physiol. Hippocampe Cent. Natl. Rech. Sci. pp. 257–272 (1962).

It therefore becomes apparent, returning to the Velodrome Track to ride after a 16 year hiatus, that the brain never forgets the skills required to ride a bike and do so smoothly and with precision around the corners and on the banks of the track.

Why is correct spinal motion so vital to this process?

Correct spinal motion, involving the movement of the spinal bones and associated tissues and proper posture, have an influence on the brain and its function, thus affecting overall health.

This is because many brain functions have been linked to movement feedback and the maintenance of our upright posture against gravity.

Increased "body stress signals" such as a strain in the spine while riding, or an injury from falling off the bike, can lead to a range of deleterious effects in the brain, the nervous system and the body, more generally.

Body awareness messages or "Proprioception" can be thought of as an essential nutrient for the brain. It is essential for perceptual awareness and interaction with our environment.

It follows then, that correct, healthy function of the body and joints, will lead to normal nerve system communication, which really means reduced "body stress signals" and increased levels of "body awareness" messages. (Seaman D. R. JMPT 1998; 21(4).

It is for this reason that Chiropractic and Neuromuscular Rehabilitation are so vital to healthy brain function and memory.

Dr Vivienne Brimelow

If you would like further information and learn how Chiropractic and Neuromuscular Rehabilitation can assist you on your health journey, please contast us: or 0414 570 621

Monday, January 10, 2022

Support your back as you jump into 2022

Now that the traditional indulgence over Christmas and New Year has come to an end, many of you may be considering jumping into a new fitness regime to get back in shape. 

But before taking up a new gym membership or getting on the running track just yet, it is important to remember the basics of good spinal health.

Otherwise, you may be putting yourself at risk of injury.

And that’s not how you want to start 2022!

To help our clients start the year on the right foot, we’ve released a new Healthy Spine Checklist that allows you to assess the health of your spine and joints, and identify any possible problems areas.  

For example, if any of the following points sound like you, your spine may need a helping hand to guide it back into shape.

Are you . . .  

  1. Having difficulty turning your head so that your chin makes it to your shoulder
  2. Struggling to bend down so your hands drop below your knees when your legs are straight
  3. Experiencing stiffness in your body and joints when waking up in the morning
  4. Feeling sore or stiff during walking
  5. Having difficulty putting socks and/or shoes on whilst standing

Remember: Your overall level of fitness can be affected by the health of your spine. Getting the basics right first - such as employing a correct posture, walking upright, having good nutrition – will give you the best chance of improving your health in 2022.

If you are suffering from any of the symptoms above, make sure to arrange an appointment with a member of our team.

You can also pop in to the practice anytime to pick up your own copy of the new Healthy Spine Checklist.

Dr Vivienne Brimelow

Thursday, December 16, 2021


CHIROPAEDIC – was formed due to an inherent need for Chiropractors who specialise in Orthopaedics; the specialty that focuses on injuries and diseases of your body’s musculoskeletal system. This complex system, which includes your bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves, allows you to move, work, and be active.

At Chiropaedic, we utilize only evidence based treatment and are fully equipped to meet your needs and maximize your neurological and muscular function. Our Chiropractors will work with you to develop a customized treatment plan to manage the physical, emotional, and behavioral changes that you may experience.

We treat patients with a wide variety of conditions and diagnoses including:

  • Brain injury
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Neuropathy
  • Other neurological injuries

Neuromuscular rehabilitation consists of evaluation and treatment of conditions related to the neurological system; brain, nerves, and spinal cord. Neuromuscular rehabilitation has been scientifically proven to assist in the faster recovery of neuromuscular injuries than Chiropractic alone.

Commonly used techniques during rehabilitation include stretching, mobility training, gait training, neuromuscular retraining, functional training and pain management. Technology plays an important role in advancement of neurological rehabilitation and we offer the following:

  • Redcord® Neurac; a treatment method that aims to restore functional and pain-free movement patterns through high levels of neuromuscular stimulation
  • Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES); is a technique used to elicit a muscle contraction using electrical impulses.

Electrical stimulation has been shown to be an effective therapeutic option for individuals suffering from pain and weakness. Below are some of the benefits clients may experience:

  • Decreased pain
  • Muscle re-education and Strengthening
  • Increased range of motion
  • Increased circulation
  • Decreased spasticity
  • Reduced edema
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Improved overall function

At Chiropaedic your care plans are goal focused. Utilising visual outcome measures we can set a benchmark of your functional ability. We can track your performance during your care so that you can see noticeable improvement in not just how you feel but how you function. We focus on improving your activities of daily living, reducing the risk of injury and therefore improving your long-term quality of life.

To learn more about Chiropaedic, visit our website here:


  • Phone: (02) 9438 2868
  • Shop 3/38-46 Albany St
    St Leonards NSW

Saturday, October 23, 2021


Corporate “Wellness” clinics and franchise arrangements may soon dominate the marketplace for Chiropractic treatments. Aggressive marketing while diminishing the real risks of treatment hallmarks, are the voracious drive to get the punters in the door. 
Once you are in the door, upselling is the name of the game. 

Unhappy with the outcome? Well too bad-you didn’t read the fine print when you signed on? It should be appreciated that these clinics operate to a “set play”, delivered by practitioners trained to a formula. The delivery is fast track with the predictable simplicity of a “one size fits all” formula. 

The clinics are almost exclusively motivated by profit and characterised by an “off the shelf” approach. It may be worth asking who owns the clinic. The answer is more than likely to be a Chiropractic entrepreneur, struck-off from international regulatory boards, replicating the same formula in Australia. 

Targeting the inexperienced, excited apprentice, motivated by the promise of success and financial reward, the formula then replicates and becomes scalable. Like “Fast Food Chains” they may well succeed but the stomach is far more forgiving than the Spine. 

Discerning patients are not seduced by the lure of cheap end entrepreneurs with highly indigestible outcomes.

by Dr Vivienne Brimelow (Chiropractor & Health Writer)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


As children we were told “Stand up straight!” “Pull your shoulders back!” We were often advised about the importance of good posture by our parents, but seldom taught why and how to achieve it?
The consequence of this is seen all around us; stiff neck, hunched shoulders, restricted breathing, tightness in the thighs, legs and ankles, backaches, headaches and a multitude of other painful symptoms.
Posture is the window to the spine and poor posture can indicate a problem with the spine and nervous system.

Slouching and forward head posture is the first indicator of poor posture. This compromises lymphatic drainage in the neck (cervical spine) causing further strain on the posterior neck muscles. It increases the load on the discs, joints and nerves and can lead to premature ageing or arthritis of the cervical spine. Some of the causes of this type of posture are sporting injuries, motor vehicle accidents, working with computers and loss of bone density. Postural problems can simply result from poor sleeping habits on soft pillows and unsupportive mattresses.
Another common postural problem is flattening of the normal curve of the lower back (lumbar spine), which leads to a backward tilt of the pelvis and anterior weight bearing of the lumbar spine. This causes an increase in disc pressure, chronic lower back pain, muscle pain, sciatica, weaknesses and circulation problems of the legs. The abnormal weight bearing of the spine can lead to arthritis of the joints and damage to the discs.

Chiropractors are expert at analyzing posture and spinal problems. They are trained to search for the problems that exist underneath poor posture.
Analyzing posture from the front, the Chiropractor looks for changes in stance ie. outward turning of the feet, alignment of the knees, leveling of the hips and pelvis, height differences of the shoulders, tilting of the head and neck. The side posture is analyzed, by the forward or backward tilting of the pelvis, forward head position and changes in the spinal curvatures. Deviations from normal alignment are an indication of changes in the spine. The gait or walking cycle is observed, as it is an important indicator of foot alignment and weight distribution, ultimately affecting spinal posture.
Changes in posture lead to distortions in spinal alignment and therefore vertebral misalignment (subluxation). This misalignment of the vertebrae affects the spinal joints and discs, causing changes in nerve function and therefore irritation of the spinal musculature and organs the nerve supplies. The long term effect of this misalignment (chronic subluxation) can lead to spinal disc and joint arthritis, irritation of multiple organs and glands of the body leading to chronic ill health and poor musculoskeletal function.
How are these deviations in the spine corrected and how can the long term effects of this misalignments be reduced? Utilizing a combination of "Chiropractic adjustments" to restore the natural movement of the skeletal system and "neuromuscular rehabilitation" to retrain the muscular and nervous systems to maintain the corrected posture, the amount of stress on the body and the risk of injury is reduced.

Dr Vivienne Brimelow 
Chiropractor, Neuromuscular and Occupational Rehabilitation Specialist