Natural Ways to Reduce Pain, Break Spasms, Improve Motion & Disc Issues Garrett Salpeter | Podcast #374
Pain from injury, accident, or illness can happen to anyone at any time. You can do several things at home to feel better. So, in this video, Dr. J and Garrett Salpeter discuss natural ways to improve motion and reduce pain through physical medicine and Neubie Method.
The primary goal of physical medicine is to help people overcome issues that prevent them from being more active via various techniques. Since increasing exercise and activity can benefit many physical and mental health conditions and reduce overall mortality.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani
In this episode, we cover:
0:00 – Introduction
0:59 – What is Neurobiolectric (Neubie)?
5:58 – Stretching
14:10 – Muscle Testing
16:23 – Neubie Equipment
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Hey guys, It’s Dr. Justin Marchegiani here with Garrett Salpeter. Really excited to have Garrett back on the show. Garrett’s a regular here. Again, Garrett’s in Austin, Texas and he has his clinic called NeuFit. He has a bioelectric biohacking device called the Neubie uh something that I’ve used in my clinic for years. Very passionate about it because it helps accelerate uh inflammation reduction healing, human performance and we’re gonna just talk about injuries, performance uh range of motion just the whole nine yards because Garrett is an expert in Physical Medicine so really excited to have Garrett on the show. Garrett, what’s up man? How have you been?
Garrett Salpeter: Thank you so much for having me on. It’s great to be back on here to catch up with you and uh excited to dive in.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Awesome man. Well, you’re always doing a lot of research. You’re on the cutting edge of what you do because you’re producing technological devices, you’re continuing education; you’re doing research so you’re always kind of have your finger to the win. What’s working best, what’s happening kind in your clinic with some of the research on, with using the Neubie, which is a biologic device and why don’t we just give people a little summary of what it is and just talk about what you’re seeing in your practice.
Garrett Salpeter: Absolutely. So, the Neubie stands for neuro bioelectric and it’s a direct current stimulation device so if people have experience with electrical devices, you know, virtually all of them are alternating current. This is direct current and that’s important for a couple of reasons, the first is that the direct current electric field actually creates this electric gradient that can help orient or align and accelerate the function of the cells that control healing of bone, muscle, connective tissue, so if we have a physical injury, direct current can actually speed up the healing process and sometimes even more interestingly the second part, the second benefit of direct current is the effect that it has on the nervous system because we often have people who will come into our office you know in pain or with limited range of motion and in one session they’ll notice tangible significant improvements and there you know in the span of one session you might be doing only 10 minutes of actual treatment and it’s obviously far too short of a period of time for any meaningful tissue healing to happen right, ligaments aren’t regenerating in 10 minutes, right? it takes time to heal so when we see these changes they’re more functional, more neurological working more on the software of the body instead of just focusing on the hardware and when we see those changes that the nervous system is the software you know of the body and that’s what controls pain, strength, range of motion, movement and also thoughts and hormones and digestion, all these things right? So, the nervous system is so important but when we see these changes when people have pain or spasms or limited range of motion being able to make these functional changes in the nervous system are super important and direct current allow us to bypass a lot of the protective muscle contractions and speak more powerfully and more precisely to the nervous system so we can make these changes more quickly and lead to longer more significant changes in the long term over time.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Got it. So, in summary, you have hardware which is like bone, connective tissue, ligaments, tendons, you know, some of those that regenerate faster like muscles some like tendons, ligaments, cartilage take longer, right? Either way with some of the electrical healing modalities, you can still increase blood flow, drive better circulation and then of course decrease inflammation so that does accelerate healing on one side of the fence and then we kind of have the software upgrade where you’re really helping the nervous system to recruit other muscles around that area which then now can buffer the impact and force and then also were talking about before the show, I had a spasm from a deadlift like a month and a half ago and my body, I just could not get rid, I had to use a little bit of aspirin because it would just kind of buckled me over 45 degrees and I just walking around like I’m bent over and I took my Neubie and I just kind of got it into that area and I just did five minutes of exercising and loosening and it broke the spasm like that and it stayed for days, I did another movement pattern the next day and I was good so it’s just crazy that even though this is what I do, you forget how impactful just something like a few minutes can be when you’re in that much pain.
Garrett Salpeter: Yeah. And the thing about that and why it’s so beneficial is that you’re really getting to the root cause of the problem there which in that case you know it’s very common for people you know quote and unquote throw their back out, you know, you bend down to pick up a pen or something and something seemingly innocuous can cause this reaction where the back you know just is incredibly painful gets into spasm and people think you know oh my gosh there must be some sort of structural issue but in most of those cases there is a minor irritation of the spinal cord or a nerve root and then what really causes the pain is the body’s reaction too. It’s not so much about what happens to us as it is about how we respond.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: It’s guarding.
Garrett Salpeter: And yeah, so the body creates this hypersensitive spasm, guarding state and really tries to lock down that area to make sure you don’t irritate that nerve again and it’s the spasm, it’s the reaction that actually ends up creating the worst of the pain and the limitation and so with the device and this use of direct current and having this effect on the nervous system were able to go map around on the body to identify where that hypersensitivity or that protective mechanism is being imposed on the body neurologically speaking being imposed on the body and then by stimulating that area it essentially creates a lot of feedback to the brain in a way that teaches the brain that It’s okay to actually move that area. Again, it allows the brain to break or you know down regulate or decrease that protective spasm. It’s like if you have a child who’s screaming and you can soothe them either by you know, holding them or giving them a you know a treat or a pacifier or something like sort of like that sort of thing.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, because I have my wife literally doing my precursor on me. I had her doing some soft tissue, I saw my message person I couldn’t even do Chiropractic outside of blocking because the spasm was just too tight but just five minutes on that was enough to kind of reset that software and so when you’re like dealing with someone like that where would stretching come in because I felt like stretching was actually making this extra problem actually worse. How would you incorporate that into someone’s program or like someone’s injured, how would that kind of come factored in?
Garrett Salpeter: So, when we talk about stretching, I think it’s really important to look through the lens of this software versus hardware conversation because when we stretch a lot of times, we think that we can literally, like, pull our muscles apart and make them physically longer, right? What we really want to do like that you know based on the image that a lot of us have of how the body works that sounds promising but what we, you can lengthen connective tissue over time but that takes a long time to remodel but what we really wanna do to increase flexibility is relax the muscles to change the tone or tension and that is 100% controlled neurologically so what we really need, want to do if we’re talking about stretching to increase muscle, you know length or increased range of motion, what we really wanna do is change nervous system signal or tone to relax that muscle so that it can go it can accommodate greater ranges of motion and there because it’s a neurological skill, you really need a neurological input so using a Neubie or using other techniques where you are instead of just kind of stretching and relaxing there. If you’re adding in if you’re adding in some breathing and you’re waiting long enough for the nervous system to relax you know there can be some benefits there or if you’re contracting the opposing muscles some of that is you know some of that can make it can make an impact but in terms of uh in terms of sorry there’s a lot alarm going off over there. No worries uh, I think it’s a smoke alarm from someone making my wife making breakfast uh so the um the uh the nervos system signal really is paramount and so finding ways to finding ways to address that are so important and that’s one of the benefits we noticed using the Neubie is that we often can help people not only break that spasm and guarding to reduce pain but also see increases in range of motion pretty quickly because we can send that signal there to teach the brain and nervous system that can allow that muscle to relax allow it to go through greater ranges of motion and open that up and then there’s an interesting question of okay if you open up this new range of motion then can you can control it because if you go into a new range of motion you know if you could only get your arm up to here and now it’s getting up to here but you don’t have any control up here you’re then at risk of injury also there so then you have to be able to create strength and motor control and coordination in those range of motion and again those are neurological skills and so using a toll like the Neubie can be very beneficial there as can isometrics at the extreme joint angle where you really get to focus on muscle recruitment over a period of time and you know strength training through complete range of motion can be helpful. Some of these more traditional approaches as long as you apply them in the right way and it really helps to keep this software and hardware framework in mind but that’s the main thing is that we only think about stretching more from the hardware side.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. I always found that foam rolling was really helpful and just doing a full range of motion of whatever that was whatever it was a squat of a lunge whatever that was so a lunge for instance to work on my hip flexor just doing into that for a couple of seconds and coming out I felt like doing something more dynamic was always helpful because in life you’re typically not holding a move for 20 or 30 seconds. I also found that with the Neubie on my hip flexor and lower back and then going into that lunge for a couple of seconds I felt like just kind of getting it up to the first sensation was very effective as well from a stretching standpoint.
Garrett Salpeter: I would agree with that and from my perspective at least I think a lot of people in stretching are kind of in this no man’s land you know they do like a 20-second stretch where you’re better off doing late like you did either of the extremes so like you did you know go into it in and out in and out like doing movements where you’re just holding maybe a couple of seconds of that end range right shorter time but more repetitions or longer being in a stretch for you know for two to three minutes so that you give the brain time to understand okay it’s not as threatening, you’re safe enough here to be able to let go and reduce tension so a lot of people are in that kind of no man’s land middle range where it’s not as effective as either the shorter ones or the much longer ones.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s great and then so when you have people that have pain because a disc is bulging out or herniating out and hitting that nerve at the IVF or at the disc level what are you doing kind of with your techniques to kind of help reduce that disc pain because conventional medicine, I mean, outside of doing surgery I mean maybe you do some kind of decompression or you hang upside down or there’s some different like decompression techniques or tables that chiropractors use. What do you typically do in your clinic when you see a disc patient?
Garrett Salpeter: So, one of the first things that we want to start with is actually education start to start about with talking about some of these really fascinating studies that show for example patients who have herniated discs and back pain you know if they there’s one group that has surgery another group that uses physical therapy or Chiropractic or more conservative care and after 12 months they end up virtually the same so there’s really very little long-term benefit and not to say that there are cases where surgeries you know not required or something like that you know I think it’s overprescribed and overdone but there certainly are cases where it’s the right move and it’s worth doing um the other thing that we like to share with people in this kind of educational process is that there are really fascinating imaging studies that show something like 30% of people in their 30s 50% of people in there 50s and even higher the older you ger have people who don’t have any pain at all you know half or more of them will still have some disc bulges or you know some herniations or different things show up on an MRI okay that you know normally you think oh that would cause pain and yet they don’t have any pain so the question is why why can someone else have the same thing you do and have no pain and yet you are coming here to see us in pain. There’s more to it than just the structural issues so a lot of it has to do with that same protective spasm that you had when you were talking about you’re dead lifted and then you got that you know that thousand mill backs a lot of it has to do with that kind of pattern you know the individual getting stuck in that pattern over time and not being able to break that cycle of spasm and pain neurologically so the first thing that we want to do is go through that same mapping process and identify where the guarding and protection is happening neurologically and do that same process and sometimes we notice people make significant progress even though again you know in one session their disk has structure hasn’t changed, the disc hasn’t healed or significantly moved back into you know back into place or anything like that but a lot of times someone will feel better even in that first visit because you’ve reduced that they’ve reduced that spasm and then we also want overtime to help better balance the structure, get the right muscles working so they’re no longer collapsing into that part of the spine and causing the pressure on the disc that’s gonna make it balls or herniate so we also want to even if someone’s feeling a little bit better right away we want to make sure that we continue to work on proper muscle activation, improve biomechanics so that they can then you know do more and more activity. They can increase the load on their body be more active and have the resilience to be able to do that without slipping back into that you know that kind of painful spasm guarding protective state.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. I think that’s solid because when you have an injury right you talked about a kind of the study on the x-rays where they looked at x-rays or MRIs and they saw 50% of people that had bulge or issues that should cause pain, had no pain, right? So, there’s something functionally at play here where you look at the structure objectively obviously flip a coin someone could be in pain or not but then functionally something else is going on here and you kind of alluded to it earlier with the shoulder increasing range of motion at the shoulder you may have higher range of motion here but you may not have the stability within your supraspinatus your Pec major your Pec minor, your subscap to be able to stabilize that muscle up here so even if you were to injure, let’s say your AC joint right, acromioclavicular joint right the reason why would you injure that joint right it’s because typically there’s the muscles around that joint aren’t stable and so how are you looking at these joints and assessing is this joint fully stable, how are we assessing the muscles all around it?
Garrett Salpeter: So, I like to do manual muscle testing and we teach a version of muscle testing for that just to kind of check at a high level can this you know this patient can this individual actually turn their muscles on in the first place can they actually get signal there or is there so much inhibition or you know the you know shut down is the muscle shut down or weak because of that habits or previous injuries um so we like to do like to do manual muscle testing just to see if there are any weak links in the areas where they can’t turn on and we like to do the scanning and mapping process with the Neubie were talking about and that lets us know where they’re again where’s that guarding and protection is present which also can mean inhibition or shutting down signal.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: How does that work; you mind taking the machine and just you don’t have to put it on how would you scan that?
Garrett Salpeter: Yeah. So, I don’t think you can see that in my frame.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I’m gonna have you go full screen. I’m gonna make you go big. Let me see if I can make you big here. Just me a second. See, if I can get you bigger on this here. All right. Well, let me see if I can do it. Well, I’ll have you keep on hold on. Let me turn it off.
Garrett Salpeter: Oh, there we go, okay so this is the device right here, the Neubie, and what we would do is take one of the pads and scan around on the body like this so we’re scanning around what we’re doing is actually sending the signal as if that area of the body is being loaded so when it’s on the bicep, it’s as if you’re you know doing bicep curls or using that muscle there and wherever the muscles are working well, the brain sees that and says oh yeah that’s just you know that muscle doing it’s thing normally there’s nothing threatening about that but if we stimulate an area that hasn’t been working well recently because it’s been weak or you have bad habits where you haven’t been using that area or have adjusted around it because of old injuries if we stimulate an area like that or where the brain is guarding and protecting in that area then we have a situation where we send that signal and the brain sees that and says that’s threatening that’s different that’s novel or new and so it’ll protect against that and so most areas that are working well feels kind of pleasant and then when we get that greater reactivity where we pick up on that hypersensitivity and some of those neurobiological issues that we were talking about the body reacts more and that helps us understand where we need to where we need to stimulate and then we stimulate those areas and we teach the brain to take off the breaks so to speak if it’s guarding and protecting it’s sort of like you’re driving a car hitting the throttle and the brake pedal at the same time which of course is inefficient and waste of energy and so we teach not necessarily teach you to like get stronger or put more force down on the throttle but we teach you to be more skillful neurologically and take the other foot off the brake and that’s what this does, this helps us find the reactivity where those breaks are being imposed and then lift them off to an appropriate level you know we have protective mechanisms to prevent ourselves from getting hurt and this just allows us to reset them back to the normal level not to any place that’s going to you know have us in a compromised position.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That makes sense and then when you find, you kind of scan, you find some issues some disturbance some may manifest as pain then you anchor one pad and then you search on the, through the other pad right and so when you’re doing that are you trying to cross the joint, are you like, what’s your philosophy when you scan? Is it just kind of looking at the next best area or are you trying to go across the joint where maybe stability or anchoring? What happened? How does that next step work?
Garrett Salpeter: So, I’m trying to find the first domino or the area of greatest impact so when we find, if we have a spot here uh you know on the pectoral muscle for example and then what we would do is yeah we figure out where to put the other pad where you know the grounding pad of the source pad or whatever you wanna call it and we would then find the area that’s gonna typically that’s gonna kind of maximize the impact here sometimes that spot itself might also be a hot spot or an area of greatest or greater need and we don’t necessarily need to go across the joint or more proximal and distal or you know higher up and further down, it’s more about finding the area of greatest need for that person neurologically where they have the greatest amount of protection or inhibition or dysfunction and working on that so sometimes the pads will be, I find another one here I show you something, they’ll be like right next to each other. Let’s imagine this is a pad sometimes they’d be right next to each other sometimes they’ll be across the joint like that and then sometimes they’ll be you know oriented along you know one lower down on the arm so they can be in different orientations, there’s not necessarily a set mechanism of, yeah, we’re trying to go across the joint and have them both longitudinally along the same muscle. It’s more about trying to find what is the area of greatest need for that individual person.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And how many outputs or pads would you put on that joint, obviously, with the Neubie, the cool thing is you have up to eight, I mean, something as a shoulder, would you kind of keep it at two or three uh bigger joints you’d go more like what’s your philosophy on how many outputs, how many you know pads would you put on a joint in a given area?
Garrett Salpeter: It depends on where we are in the process. In the beginning, we are we’re doing that mapping process, we’re finding these hot spots or areas of interest or dysfunctions or trigger points, you know, sometimes we refer them with different words but we essentially want to let the patient’s body be our guide in the beginning and work on however many hot spots show up and so far some people it’s two pad you know it was one spot and we need a grounding pad or a source pad to stimulate that so far some people it’s just two pads and then for some they have you know eight or more hot spots so we might be using all eight pads even on a smaller joint you know or smaller area of the body so it’s more about that more about showing up what that patient is representing with and what their body’s telling us in the beginning and then as we progress once we get out of the acute stage where we’ve worked through those hot spots and those kind of more immediate more acute dysfunction then we want to talk about improving mechanics about strengthening about increasing muscle recruitment or relaxing muscles for greater range of motion and then we can use uh you know all eight pads depending on what we want to do so one of my favorites you know examples of this is to talk about the hip if we want to increase hip extension, we can actually use a couple of the leads on the front side of the hip you know on the hip flexors quads adductors on a setting that’s going to help them relax more and more and then on the back side of the hip so on the glute specifically we’re thinking there um to drive hip extension we can actually change the setting on the device to create more contraction in those muscles and so contraction on one side on the back side and relaxation of the front can help lead to greater hip extension range of motion so it depends a little bit on where we’re going definitely in the beginning we want to not necessarily work on a predetermined number of spots or pads but let that patient’s body be our guide.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So, when you work up a patient right and you, kind of like map out these hot spots let’s say someone comes in with their shoulder area let’s say you find some hot spots here and, in the back, and then down here on the tricep are those kinds of your spots you’re going to hit for the next couple of weeks or are you trying to reinvent the wheel every time and then you’re scanning every single appointment and seeing if they change. How often do you keep the original spots going for that first assessment?
Garrett Salpeter: So, that’s a great question most of the time the you know fortunate answer for a clinician is that you typically don’t have to rescan because typically these patterns that people have that are contributing to injuries are fairly deep-seated or deep rooted patterns that are gonna take a little while take several sessions to fully you know we should see progress each visit and yet we should likely need a few visits to really make more lasting even more significant and meaningful changes so typically once we find those spots especially if they’re standing out clearly and there’s not a lot of them typically we’d continue to work those some ones uh. If there’s a lot of spots and we’re having to prioritize we may want to recheck those just to see you know sometimes if when A or B improve then we want to work on C, D and E. Maybe those become the next kind of highest priority areas to work on so um it depends a little bit on the circumstances but generally you know you’re not gonna see significant change in terms of what shows up when we’re doing that mapping, session over session unless someone you know, we definitely want to do it if someone isn’t making the progress that we wish to see or if there’s a new presentation a new symptom or you know they went out and played in a basketball game or tennis match and have some sort of new symptom or problem yeah we’d want to rescan then but generally speaking you’re picking up these patterns that are more than just like oh I slept wrong or more than just oh that’s because my you know my hamstring are sore from the work that I did the other day. It’s usually more uh, usually a layer deeper than that and so when it shows up we can work on it for, you know. at least several sessions.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I think that’s great. I mean someone has worked in the physical medicine space for quite a while, I think this is an awesome tool to have. We’ll put links down below so if people on the patient level want to reach out to you Garrett and your stuff there’ll be a link down below that you can reach out. If you’re a practitioner and you or just someone who wants to access this technology at home for better health um kind of biohacking yourself more on a daily basis, we’ll put some information down below for that. Anything else you wanna leave the listeners with it that’s going in your clinics, anything new or cool that you wanna highlight?
Garrett Salpeter: One piece of news is that we just in the last couple of months published our first peer-reviewed scientific journal article on the new bible and it shows that we’re basically using the Neubie to uh without any weight without any external load at all and comparing that to the gold standard of exercise which is lifting weights with about 75 or 80% of one rep max so one rep max would be like the amount of weight that’s so heavy you can only lift it once 75 or 80% of that is you know a weight that you can lift maybe you know eight to ten to eight times or something like that so that’s yeah that’s essentially the gold standard of resistance training and we’re seeing that with the Neubie and no external load, you can get a very similar effects on muscle as using heavier resistance and more traditional exercise so that is something that is really cool because it opens up opportunities for people who can’t lift heavy because they have a joint injury or some other pain or issue they’re trying to work around or they’re in the middle of a professional sports season and this can help them get you know get training while better managing fatigue and stresses of the season also for older people who or people who have mobility problems or various neurological diseases and dysfunction that can’t really do traditional gym exercise weightlifting this can allow them to get metabolic hormonal muscle building benefits and gosh muscle I mean one of the most interesting bodies of research I think is shows the beneficial effects of muscle mass on longevity and how having more muscle helps with so many factors hormonally metabolically overall health wise that you maintaining muscle mass as we age is one of the key one of the biggest factors in all-cause mortality and extending life and health span.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100% agree. I think that’s awesome. Guys reach out to the NeuFit N-E-U dot Fit. We’ll put links down below where you guys can reach out. We have some other content with Garrett, we’ll put some old podcast links down below as well. Garrett, thank you so much for coming on the show. Really appreciate it.
Garrett Salpeter: Thank you. It was a blast. I loved it.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: All right. Thanks. Take care.